In a move that signals that the capital markets know a thing or two about which way the renewable wind is blowing, former investment bankers Toby Greenane and Daniel Barber are about to launch a new capital raising and hire up to six new staff for their start-up energy company Nu-tility.
The move comes as the company, established in 2015, received B Corporation certification and after it completed a string of sustainability projects.
Greenane told The Fifth Estate on Tuesday at best the company expected a “feel good” reaction to the B Corp certification but had in fact found a much more serious and welcome response.
“We thought we’d get a feel-good response but actually what’s happened is that in speaking to the REITs [real estate investment trusts], nationals and multinational businesses, they’re aware that investors and Blackrock-esque companies globally, if they’re not engaging with B Corp certified companies then funding is going to become increasingly hard to come by.
“So that’s been really beneficial for us.”
Part of the B Corp commitment, Greenane says, is that the company becomes “a catalyst for change” with its own suppliers, encouraging B Corp methodologies among them.
Another confidence booster has been the fast-evolving sentiment on sustainability coming from the capital markets. Blackrock, for instance, had recently put on notice companies it invested in to say they needed to be well on the road to a sustainable transition.
In a letter to stakeholders, Blackrock chief executive Larry Fink urged large corporations to make “a positive contribution to society”.
Forbes described as “electrifying” Fink’s “clarion call for CEOs to seize the mantle of leadership in making the world a better place, beyond simply delivering profits. He sees governments as failing in their duty to address the major challenges that loom in the future: ‘As a result, society is increasingly turning to the private sector and asking that companies respond to broader societal challenges’.”
The premise of the letter, Greenane says, is if you’re not hitting your ESG targets or doing your best to hit them and not engaging with B Corporations then don’t bother coming to us for funding.”
Not a space that Nu-tility plans to fall into. Recent work for the company includes a 2.1 megawatt solar roof over a car park; a fossil fuel reduction plan to an off-grid island resort, including 300kW solar system and a 635kWh battery storage system; a low-emission waste incinerator in Queensland that will result in a 50 per cent reduction of grid energy consumption; lighting and chiller upgrades; rainwater harvesting; and a reverse osmosis network.
The company will also carry out Green Star certification and install a solar plant on Lendlease’s K1 and K5 timber towers on Brisbane’s showgrounds site, and other work in NSW and Victoria.
The size of the new capital raising and who will fund it is still undisclosed; the first tranche came from Impact Investment Group.
- See our article IIG targets property again, this time with “disruptive” energy services outfit nu-tility
The company claims to offer a full suite of services, from engineering to design, deployment and funding.