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Leveraging Guarantees of Origin for enhanced corporate sustainability

June 28th, 2024
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In today's business landscape, corporate sustainability has become a critical component for companies aiming to achieve long-term success and maintain a positive public image.

Guarantees of Origin (GOs) are electronic certificates verify that a specific amount of electricity is produced from renewable energy sources. By leveraging GOs, companies can significantly enhance their sustainability credentials, meet their corporate sustainability goals, and engage more effectively with stakeholders. This blog explores the strategic integration of GOs into corporate sustainability plans, the impact measurement, communication strategies, challenges, and real-world success stories.

Linking GOs to corporate sustainability goals

Corporate sustainability goals typically revolve around reducing carbon footprints, improving energy efficiency, and promoting the use of renewable energy. GOs can directly support these objectives by providing verifiable proof that a portion or all of the electricity a company consumes comes from renewable sources. This not only helps to meet sustainability targets but also enhances a company's green credentials. This supports building trust with stakeholders, including customers, investors, and regulatory bodies.

To effectively link GOs to corporate sustainability goals, companies should start by thoroughly assessing their current energy usage and sustainability objectives. This assessment will help identify the potential contributions of GOs to their overall sustainability strategy. Companies should also consider aligning their use of GOs with international standards and frameworks, such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and Science-Based Targets initiative, to ensure credibility and consistency – not forgetting longevity.

Strategy development: incorporating GOs into sustainability plans

Developing a strategy to incorporate GOs into sustainability plans requires a diverse approach. Companies need to:

  • Assess energy consumption patterns: understanding how and when energy is consumed across the organisation can help identify opportunities for integrating renewable energy sources.

  • Set clear objectives: define specific, measurable goals for the use of renewable energy and GOs. This might include targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the percentage of renewable energy in the overall energy mix, or achieving carbon neutrality.

  • Engage stakeholders: involve key stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, and investors, in the development of the GO strategy. Their input and buy-in are crucial for successful implementation.

  • Select reliable GO providers: partner with reputable GO providers who can ensure the authenticity and traceability of the renewable energy certificates.

  • Integrate GOs into energy procurement policies: make GOs a key component of energy procurement policies to ensure a consistent and long-term commitment to renewable energy.

Measuring the impact of GOs on environmental performance

To measure the impact of GOs on environmental performance, companies should establish a robust monitoring and reporting system. Key performance indicators (KPIs) might include:

  • Reduction in carbon emissions: track the decrease in greenhouse gas emissions attributable to the use of renewable energy certified by GOs.

  • Renewable energy percentage: measure the proportion of total energy consumption that comes from renewable sources.

  • Energy efficiency improvements: monitor changes in energy consumption patterns and overall efficiency gains.

Advanced analytics and data management tools can help companies collect, analyse, and report on these KPIs, providing transparency and accountability in their sustainability efforts.

Communicating sustainability achievements through GOs

Effective communication of sustainability achievements is essential for building and maintaining trust with stakeholders – whether that is employees, suppliers or other audiences. Companies should leverage multiple channels to communicate their use of GOs and the associated environmental benefits. Key communication strategies include:

  • Education campaigns: educational campaigns that inform customers about GOs, how they work, and their benefits. This could include webinars, informational videos, and detailed FAQs on the supplier’s website. These campaigns should also be shared with employees.

  • Sustainability reports: annual sustainability reports should include detailed information about the use of GOs and their impact on achieving sustainability goals.

  • Marketing and branding: highlight the company’s commitment to renewable energy and sustainability in marketing materials, product labels, and branding campaigns.

  • Stakeholder engagement: use forums, meetings, and social media platforms to engage stakeholders in discussions about the company’s sustainability initiatives and the role of GOs.

  • Third-Party certifications: obtain third-party certifications and endorsements that validate the company’s use of GOs and renewable energy. This adds credibility and can enhance the company's reputation.

Overcoming Challenges in Leveraging GOs for Sustainability

Despite the benefits, companies may face several challenges in leveraging GOs for sustainability:

  • Cost considerations: the cost of purchasing GOs can be a barrier, especially for smaller companies. However, the long-term benefits, such as enhanced reputation and regulatory compliance, often outweigh the initial costs.

  • Complexity of implementation: integrating GOs into existing energy procurement and management systems can be complex. Companies need to invest in appropriate technology and expertise to manage this transition effectively.

  • Market volatility: the availability and price of GOs can fluctuate, influenced by market demand and supply conditions. Companies should develop flexible strategies to manage these uncertainties.

  • Regulatory compliance: keeping up with evolving regulations and standards related to renewable energy and GOs requires continuous monitoring and adaptation.

Case Studies: Corporate Success with GOs

Several companies have successfully leveraged GOs to enhance their sustainability profiles:

Unilever (UK):

Unilever, a global leader in consumer goods, has been leveraging GOs to support its goal of sourcing 100% of its grid electricity from renewable sources. This initiative is part of their Sustainable Living Plan, which aims to reduce environmental impact and enhance positive social impact across their supply chain.

BMW (Germany):

The BMW Group has integrated GOs into its energy procurement strategy to ensure that a significant portion of the electricity used in its production facilities comes from renewable sources. This supports BMW's vision of sustainable mobility and reduces the carbon footprint of its manufacturing processes.

Heineken (Netherlands):

Heineken has committed to sourcing 70% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. The company uses GOs to certify the renewable energy used in its breweries, contributing to its broader sustainability goals and enhancing its reputation as an environmentally responsible company. 

Conclusion

There is no doubt that leveraging GOs is a powerful strategy for companies aiming to enhance their corporate sustainability. By linking GOs to sustainability goals, developing robust integration strategies, measuring environmental impacts, and effectively communicating achievements, companies can overcome challenges and achieve significant progress in their sustainability journeys. Real-world success stories from leading corporations like Unilever, BMW and Heineken demonstrate the transformative potential of GOs in promoting renewable energy and corporate sustainability. As more companies adopt this approach, the collective impact on global sustainability efforts will be profound, driving us closer to a more sustainable future.

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