“The natural environment sustains the life of all beings universally.” - Dalai Lama

 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is fast becoming a standard practice in today’s business world. Defined by Global Affairs Canada, CSR is “the voluntary activities undertaken by a company to operate in an economic, social and environmentally sustainable manner”. The ultimate goal of CSR is to make a positive impact on society, the companies stakeholders, and the environment, but it offers a multitude of benefits for the business itself. Forbes suggests CSR contributes towards; innovation, cost savings, brand differentiation, long-term thinking, customer and employee engagement- all of which can create great value for a business.

 

So what sort of activities count as CSR? Many companies regularly donate money to charities, get staff involved in community volunteering and put a lot of focus on staff training and development. But how about a green initiative? With climate change an increasing threat, responsible for many natural disasters in recent years, putting green infrastructure as the focus of a companies CSR strategy will help towards making a positive difference to a whole number of issues.  

 

Investing in green infrastructure (GI) shows that the company is conscious of the impact of climate change on society and the environment, and that they are active engaging with these concerns. 

Barclays bank were one of the first companies to engage in GI as part of their CSR strategy. They installed a green roof on top of their high-rise office building in Canary Wharf. The main benefits of this roof were improved biodiversity in a highly urbanised area, carbon capture, reduction of rain water run-off and staff engagement. Maybe a fair amount of cost involved initially, but this won them a CSR award and a huge amount of positive publicity. 

Source: greenroofs.com

Another bank indirectly focusing on GI are BNP Paribas. They are not only supporting their own green initiatives, but making it easier for people to borrow money for green infrastructure projects, and provide financial support for SME’s engaged in the industry. 

 

Investing in GI can help businesses to think more about how their own activities affect the environment, which will help them to be more engaged in their CSR goals. Or alternatively how it can directly protect their business assets. Companies that are located in high risk areas for natural disasters are increasingly investing in green infrastructure such as marshes, dykes and other sustainable urban draining systems as a way of protecting their buildings and other infrastructure from flooding and storm damage. 

Green areas or rooftop gardens can provide areas of recreation and rest for employees, giving them the opportunity to connect with nature which reduces stress and builds on motivation, showing a commitment to employee health and wellbeing. Last summer Hosta created this terrace garden for Esendex as a break out space for their staff.

 

Ecosystem services have been found to contribute to 7% of the world’s GDP which is a huge amount in monetary terms (See blog on Natural Capital). Yet it is not only large corporates that are investing in CSR. It is equally important for SME’s to do so as a way of showing  their commitment to it’s customers and the environment. With that said, greening the environment can be a way of engaging in CSR without creating a huge cost for the company. Activities could include getting employees involved with community gardening and tidying up of neglected areas, urban bulb planting, creating bug hotels or spreading wildflower seeds around the companies grounds to improve biodiversity. 

 

For more information on how your company could reach it’s CSR targets through implementing green infrastructure email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or click here