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Company invites others to use its business model and help tackle climate change

UrbanVolt, the Dublin based company which established the Light as a Service (LaaS®) business model to help businesses across Europe and the US reduce their energy bills as well as their carbon footprint, has become the first Irish company to be accorded B Corp status.

UrbanVolt joins other renowned B Corp companies such as outdoor clothing company Patagonia which supports environmental groups all over the world, Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream, which refuses to use GMO ingredients and Danone North America, the largest B Corp company in the world.

B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the non-profit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, governance, accountability and transparency. There are just 2,600 of them in total, spread across 60 countries and over 150 industries.

Edel Kennedy, Head of Marketing at UrbanVolt, said the company had been inspired by Patagonia’s desire to use the power of business to fundamentally change the world for the better.

Businesses have to make money to survive, that’s a given. But that’s not enough anymore. You have to use the power of business to do good and influence positive change in the world, especially when it comes to the environment. You only have to look at the weather extremes which are happening around the globe which shows we all need to take action. That’s why we engaged with the B Corp process and are delighted to become the first company in Ireland to be certified,” Kennedy said.

Established in 2015, UrbanVolt created Light as a Service (LaaS®) in order to help companies, upgrade their buildings to LED lighting for no upfront capital cost. This enables companies to save 75% on their lighting costs while also dramatically reducing their carbon emissions.

A proportion of the energy saving is then paid to UrbanVolt as a service charge for the first five years, during which time UrbanVolt also maintains the lights. To date it has delivered its clients energy savings equivalent to permanently removing almost 8,500 home from the electricity grid. This is the same as taking a population greater than Monaghan town or Thurles off the electricity grid.

As a result of undergoing the B Corp process, UrbanVolt has changed its constitution and is eliminating plastic from its packaging from next month. But as Kennedy points out, it is also inviting others to copy its business model in order to deliver even greater environmental impact.

Other companies are using the Light as a Service tagline and it’s difficult for the public to tell the difference between us all. As part of being a B Corp and doing our bit for the environment, we want to see other companies use our model. We can’t service all the business around the world which want to save money by changing to LEDs while also reducing their carbon footprint. There are thousands of small stores and restaurants in Ireland alone and we simply can’t get around to all of them so we’re delighted other companies are now helping those smaller sites to reduce their energy consumption. However, we are confident we will continue to be the go-to company for larger corporates as we deliver a multi-currency, multi-site, off balance sheet solution.”

Kennedy said she would recommend B Corp to other Irish companies but only if they are truly mission-driven.

This isn’t for the faint hearted, there is a huge level of due diligence and as a result a huge level of commitment is required from all your stakeholders. And that’s how it should be. That’s how you learn. There are over 400 detailed questions which must be answered while the process takes up to six months. Your application is also peer-reviewed by existing B Corp members who must approve your application,” she said.

As there are no other B Corps in Ireland it probably isn’t as well known in this market. However, for our enterprise clients, having B Corp status means a lot. It is very well recognised by larger corporations and is a strong differentiator that allows them to comfortably do business with you in the knowledge that your business has been vetted by the B Lab and your peers,” Kennedy concluded.