GRESB Participant Q&A: Ventient Energy

Ventient Energy, an independent generator of renewable energy in Europe, scored 100 in the Infrastructure Asset Assessment in 2022. We recently talked to Holly Backhurst, ESG Manager at Ventient Energy, to understand what it means to achieve top marks and to discuss how the infrastructure benchmark must continue to stretch and evolve to effectively assess the efforts and performance of participants across the infrastructure sector.

Name: Holly Backhurst
Firm: Ventient Energy
Position: ESG Manager
GRESB Assessments: GRESB Infrastructure Asset Assessment

How central is ESG to your decision-making process as a business?

ESG informs the strategic decision-making of our Board of Directors, who understand its importance in supporting the long-term success of the business. We are extending beyond traditional short-term thinking and holistically assessing our risks, opportunities, and impact on society and the environment. We have made a lot of progress over the last few years, but we understand that ESG is a journey, and there is still work to be done to quantify the financial implications of ESG and embed it into all areas of our decision-making.

How did you start your ESG journey and how has the GRESB Assessment assisted you so far?

Ventient Energy was launched in 2017 and we became GRESB participants shortly afterwards in 2018. Since the outset, ESG has been an important part of our company culture and strategy, and GRESB has been fundamental to our journey over the last five years. The GRESB assessment, as well as the training videos and resources, helped us navigate the complexities of ESG, including understanding the terminology, establishing relevant processes and datasets, and developing our strategy.

You have achieved, at least for now, a GRESB score of 100, but what more do you want to achieve in ESG?

We are delighted with our score of 100 in the GRESB assessment. However, in the face of immense global challenges, it is more important than ever that we keep working to continuously strengthen our ESG commitment. The GRESB assessment is evolving and Ventient is pursuing an ambitious growth strategy, requiring us to regularly re-baseline our metrics and targets and update our materiality assessment. To stay resilient to these external and internal changes, we are currently developing a future focused ESG strategy, with an immediate focus on improving our data and further embedding ESG within our decision-making.

How can the GRESB Assessment go further to help monitor your progress as well as encourage the rest of the market?

As the GRESB assessment continues to evolve, we would like to see more focus on assessing targets, including their level of ambition and our performance against them. To tackle the climate crisis and other global challenges that we face, we collectively need to drive towards ambitious targets and be held accountable for our progress. GRESB has an important role to continue challenging us and the rest of the market.

GRESB has introduced more content on Net Zero, the TCFD, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in 2023 – how important are these issues to your business?

Our ESG strategy has four pillars that were voted as important by the Ventient team, these include Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Climate Change Impact and Awareness. These issues are fundamental to our culture, and we are working hard to understand our climate risks and opportunities and create a workplace that respects diversity. We are also doing everything we can to contribute to a net-zero future and are working to actively reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. 

In the longer term, are there any emerging ESG issues you think will become more important to the market and to your sector that are currently overlooked?

We are seeing increased recognition that climate change and biodiversity loss are twin crises that should be tackled together. Companies have traditionally overlooked biodiversity loss in favour of carbon footprinting and emissions reduction. There are clear signals that this is changing, especially with the development of the Task Force for Nature Related Financial disclosures (TNFD). As generators of renewable energy, we have a duty to mitigate any adverse impacts that our operations may have on nature and pursue opportunities to enhance it, so we welcome the increased focus and action on biodiversity.

To learn more about the evolution of the Infrastructure Benchmark, read our article “An Evolving Infrastructure Benchmark” in Institutional Investing in Infrastructure.

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