The Impact of Sustainability on a Company’s Bottom Line

Mon, 10/21/2013 - 16:16

Sustainability has become a common goal for many sectors of society, from governments and companies, to nonprofits and communities. The concept now includes so many issues that its meaning is often lost. A widely accepted approach to full cost accounting and measuring sustainability performance is the triple bottom line concept, which was ratified by the United Nations in 2007. The triple bottom line consists of three P accounts: profit, people and planet. In concordance with this philosophy, Mexican company Grupo DESUS participates as an advisor, supplier and sustainability developer within various industries, among which the mining sector is prominent. DESUS believes that sustainability is the way for companies to succeed in the long run. According to Juan Manuel Contreras, Strategy Leader of Grupo DESUS, “If companies really want to exist in the long run they have to invest now in sustainability. Companies have to care for the planet because they face potential natural resource depletion. They also must take into account the communities in which they are operating, as well as how they are taking care of their personnel. The third pillar is the company’s financial performance. We see sustainability as the right balance between these three aspects, which have to be intertwined for a business to really be sustainable.” DESUS origins are cemented on more than four decades of innovation. Architect Enrique Abaroa founded the first company of the Group in the landscaping field. A pioneer, he brought the idea of landscaping and green construction to Monterrey, and is responsible for two of the city’s main icons: Parque Fundidora and Calzada del Valle. Today, DESUS is comprised of twelve companies and a foundation that support the sustainability from every aspect: energy efficiency, construction, soil stabilization, restoration, social responsibility, consulting, and financing.

DESUS can service the mining industry in multiple manners. The main objective of the group is to positively impact the bottom line of mining companies and ensure their long term success. “In the case of mining, there are growing expectations and concerns of investors, because any problems with the community or employees will have a negative influence on the business. When a company is sustainable, these kinds of risks are minimal or non-existent, and operations will not be affected by stoppages. On the other hand, the stock exchange requires companies to meet transparency and reporting standards to go public,” mentions Juan Pablo Abaroa, Commercial Leader of Grupo DESUS.

Through Ecomex, a company in its development division and an official distributor of Tensar products, DESUS offers geosynthetic solutions such as geomembranes, geotubes, erosion control blankets, geotextiles, among others. The company has also established a partnership with Tensar North American Green to offer erosion control solutions for slopes and hydroseeding. “We offer retaining walls for mining operations, with the added value of building them with local soil, and putting a green face on the walls,” Abaroa explains. “It is a special system, which is actually cheaper than regular alternatives and gives mines an ecological face. We have comprehensive solutions because we do the mechanic soil studies, engineering, risk assessment calculation, and training. We provide all the services that companies will usually have to subcontract from third parties.”DESUS manages to offer clients solutions that are both ecologically and economically sound. For example, while building an access road to a mine, the typical solution is to add limestone to the road to control humidity, which deters the flow of rainwater to the underground phreatic aquifer system. DESUS’s solution is to install a geogrid in the access road and then lay a comparably small amount of material, which is not at risk of getting lost in the subsoil. This solution allows for the use of less material and less compacting work, which also entails savings in machinery, time, and energy.

In the consulting area, DESUS combines deep expertise in sustainability with the global network and knowledge pool provided by BSR, a corporate responsibility consulting group present in various industries around the world. “We combine our practice and theory inside DESUS with BSR’s deep expertise in stakeholder engagement,” says Ricardo Cavazos, Leader of DESUS Consulting. “Stakeholder engagement is particularly interesting because of the social connection needed with the communities where mines operate. BSR has a lot of experience in understanding the needs of the different stakeholders, from government entities to personnel.”

DESUS uses mathematical evaluations to determine the cost saving and the reduction in carbon footprint following the implementation of the company’s solutions. The group believes that environmental regulations will only become more stringent in Mexico in the years to come, up to the point of catching up with American regulations in a 10 year period. Because of this, Cavazos mentions that the company does not filter its clients depending on their interest in environmental matters, but instead tries to explain the importance of sustainability in any organization’s future. “We do not turn any client down; we try to change their mindset instead. There is a lot of communication with potential customers. We sit with them and try to convince them of the benefits of sustainability,” he details.