Businesses today face increased scrutiny over sustainability and corporate social responsibility from both the media and consumers. Social media amplifies these effects, making it increasingly important for corporations not only to produce a quality good or service, but also to do so in a socially conscious manner. Failure to do so can result in anything from public shaming and boycotts to government penalties. In the face of such potential consequences, savvy executives and management teams understand that sustainability needs to be a core tenet of their corporate development strategy.
While there are dozens of ways your business can contribute to a corporate sustainability strategy, an oft-overlooked step towards that goal involves the installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging. Adding commercial EV charging stations to employee and customer parking may seem like a small step, but you might be surprised by the many benefits that this action can bring.
Before diving into the benefits of charging stations, it’s first important to understand the landscape for corporate sustainability as a whole. In particular, there are two terms that have become an integral part of the modern business lexicon:
• Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is, according to Investopedia, “a self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable—to itself, its stakeholders, and the public. By practicing corporate social responsibility, also called corporate citizenship, companies can be conscious of the kind of impact they are having on all aspects of society including economic, social, and environmental.”
CSR compels businesses to operate in a fashion that betters both society and the environment, rather than degrading them. Examples of CSR might include:
○ Charitable giving
○ Decreasing carbon footprint
○ Volunteering or giving back to the community
○ Investing in socially or environmentally conscious efforts
• Business Sustainability is about juggling financial, social, and environmental demands to ensure the creation of a successful and ethical good or service. Sometimes this is also referred to as the triple bottom line and consists of a business strategy that benefits:
In lieu of focusing solely on short-term profits, businesses with an outlook rooted in sustainability instead take a more tempered, long-term approach and make investments that pay dividends over time in the form of better business performance. Some commonly noted benefits of running a sustainable business include better PR, branding, and recruiting.
If your sustainability strategy doesn’t include investments in electric vehicles and EV charging infrastructure, it’s time to think about what part these technologies will play in your company’s plan to reduce environmental impact. Even if you start with adding just a few charging stations, the potential benefits are well worth it. These include:
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
If reducing your carbon footprint lies at the center of your CSR plan, then encouraging employees to use EVs is one of the best ways you can go about achieving that effort. Typically, vehicle emissions can be split into two categories:
• Air pollutants contribute to air quality issues like smog and can cause health issues.
• Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) consist of CO2 and methane, which contribute to climate change.
EVs, which have zero tailpipe emissions, produce far less well-to-wheel emissions compared to their gasoline or diesel running counterparts. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that on average, vehicles produce the following pounds of CO2-equivalent emissions annually:
• Gasoline – 12K lbs. of CO2
• Hybrid – 6K lbs. of CO2
• Plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) – 5.9K lbs. of CO2
• All electric (BEV) – 4.7K lbs. of CO2
For companies with a lot of employees, emissions associated with employee commutes can add up quickly. These emissions fall under the Scope 3 category of the GHG Protocol and any reduction in those emissions can be included in an annual corporate sustainability report. Encouraging employees to give up their ICE vehicles and transition to EVs can make a serious difference in reducing the amount of Scope 3 emissions your company must report, and offering EV charging at the workplace can be one of the best ways to do so. CarMax and CleanTechnica discovered that 72% of electric vehicle enthusiasts surveyed would be more likely to buy a plug-in electric vehicle if their employer offered charging stations. And smart charging features like Enel X’s e-mobility emission saving tool (currently available in Italy) can help you to easily quantify the cumulative savings to include in your annual report.
Establishes Your Authority as a Socially Conscious Brand
Adding charging stations to your workplaces demonstrates that your business embraces technologies that make the planet a cleaner and safer place to live. This signals to employees, customers, and business partners that your business seeks to encourage globally responsible behavior and helps to establish your brand as an authority that practices what they preach.
Whether it’s employees or customers, people will start pointing to your business as an example of what to do. You build up trust through your actions. As a result, when you speak, more people will listen.
Demonstrates That You Embrace Change
There’s little doubt that EVs are the way of the future. As EV technology continues to evolve and improve, the market for EVs will only continue to grow. According to BNEF:
• In 2018, 2 million EVs were sold globally, and that number is expected to reach 3 million units in 2020, 10 million units in 2025, and 28 million units in 2030 as the cost of production decreases.
• By 2030, battery EVs are projected to represent 77% of all electric vehicles, meaning fast and reliable charging will be more important than ever.
• As EV sales continue to increase, the sales volume of fuel vehicles is projected to nosedive by 2024.
Car companies are reading the tea leaves and already shifting their production efforts. Ford recently announced increasing spend in electrification efforts to $11 billion in 2022, and Volkswagen has committed to a $36 billion electrification investment through 2024. Other major auto manufacturers are following suit.
By installing charging stations, you show that you not only see this change on the horizon but want to do your part to champion it and speed its arrival. Whether or not they realize it, anyone who walks into your parking lot intuitively sees that your business is forward-thinking.
Attract and Retain Good Employees
In today’s exceptionally competitive job market, it’s important to think through how you can provide additional value to employees. Millennials especially care about working for a business that is socially conscious. The 2016 Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement Study emphasized how crucial corporate sustainability mattered to them. Key takeaways include:
• 64% of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work
• 64% won’t take a job if a company doesn’t have strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) values
• 83% would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues (vs. 70% U.S. average)
• 88% say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact on a social and environmental issue
With this in mind, adding charging stations not only shows that you care but encourages your employees to act in a socially conscious fashion. By providing EV-driving employees with choice parking spots that are closer to the front of the building and allowing them to charge their vehicle at work for free, you reward them for taking action. And this is just one of the many benefits of adding EV charging stations for your employees.
Adding charging stations contributes to your overall sustainability strategy, which results in happy customers. Per Forbes, a 2017 study polled more than 1,000 Americans about corporate social responsibility, and its findings were eye-opening:
• 68% of millennials bought a product with a social or environmental benefit in the past 12 months.
• 87% of consumers will have a more positive image of a company that supports social or environmental issues.
• 88% will be more loyal to a company that supports social or environmental issues.
• 87% would buy a product with a social and environmental benefit if given the opportunity.
• 92% will be more likely to trust a company that supports social or environmental issues.
Clearly, every effort you can make to demonstrate socially conscious behavior to customers is beneficial to you in the long run.
Take Advantage of Limited Incentives
Many commercial properties are eligible for utility and state EVSE incentives, which provide thousands of dollars for equipment and installation. Depending on the incentives available in your area, it may even be possible to install EV charging equipment at zero cost.
As if that weren’t incentive enough, you may also be eligible to receive a personal tax credit ranging from $2,500 to $7,500, should you choose to drive an EV.
For the modern business, sustainability matters. Adding EV charging stations is one easy step to attack this issue and benefits your business in more ways than simply supporting your sustainability program.
Interested in boosting your corporate sustainability strategy with EV charging? Reach out to us today to learn how Enel X can help you leverage incentives to cost-effectively implement EV charging to your business operations.
Enel X in North America has helped over 3,000 business customers across more than 10,000 sites find the best energy solutions for their properties. We work with our customers to ensure that all of their charging needs are met.