Many organizations, small business owners, and industry professionals continue to work towards deepening their understanding of the true value of “Going Green.” Why? Green initiatives are not simply a popular buzzword, nor often unfulfilled “marketing pitch.” Increasingly, business professionals are recognizing that there is a social, economic, and environmental responsibility (and benefit) in both the marketing, design systems integration, and implementation of effective green programs. The net positive on reducing waste, designing green buildings, implementing green operations and maintenance plans … all have continually proven to yield a positive return on investment.
Social Responsibility: often referred as CSR, or Corporate Social Responsibility, whereby companies are perceived to have a social obligation to thoughtfully consider the best interest of its customers, employees, communities, and shareholders. Often, this is believed to extend beyond statutory obligation to comply with established legislation. Special emphasis is given to the principles of Sustainable Development, in which the core belief is that organizational decision-making should consider company profitability, however also drive corporate policies around short and long-term environmental stewardship as relates to their activities and manner in which it conducts business.
Financial Responsibility: we are seeing an unprecedented level of government programs and initiatives designed to drive corporate decision-making within markets that include manufacturing, construction, etc., to invest in implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. In many cases, the good news is that implementation of sustainable operations can drive increased efficiency through reductions in energy consumption, implementation of building maintenance methodologies that are often cost neutral, decreasing the cost of workspaces through use of recycled furniture while changing too low–use lighting (which provides eco-friendly work environments), to name a few. Government subsidies and incentives often further complement and reward efforts to develop and implement successful sustainable operations and maintenance programs. Nearly all of the points needed for LEED Certification (40 points) can be achieved through the Energy and Atmosphere category (35 points). It is by far the largest category within the rating system, and emphasizes the combination of energy performance and renewable energy, which has shown can lower costs up to 50% in the first year alone.
Regarding financial benefit, consider the following:
8-9% * – estimated decreases in operating costs
7.5% * – building value increases
6.6% * – return on investment and proves
3.5% * – occupancy ratio increases
3% * - rent ratio increases
Environmental Responsibility: I have often stated that data should lead us to the right conclusion, and clearly effective green programs and initiatives yield measurable benefits. For example, let’s look at the negative impact of US buildings on our resources. Such facilities consume 72% of our electricity, produce 39% of our CO2 emissions, 13.6% of portable water consumption, and 40% of primary energy use (Source: Environmental Information Administration & US Geological Survey) – Staggering numbers, right? in comparison, green buildings can reduce energy consumption 24% to 50%, CO2 emissions by as much as 39%, water consumption an average of 40%, and solid waste 70%.
Just as certain, it is widely accepted that green building occupants are healthier and much more productive in their work. With an average of 90% of US people spending more of their time indoors, green buildings often have better indoor air quality and lighting, among other key advantages. 34 of the world’s 100 largest economies are cities. Cities are responsible for consuming approximately 60% to 80% of the world’s energy production. In truth, there seems to be a direct correlation between the implementation of effective green programs and design of green buildings, to improved office worker productivity and employee morale, while driving efficiencies and reduced consumption.
Companies are also realizing the positive impact of an established, effective, and well managed sustainability platform can have on the organizations overall marketing campaigns, both with existing as well as potential customers. To be sure, if data suggests that green programs and solutions are important to major organizations and corporate real estate and facilities management firms, then quite clearly, such programs should be equally if not more important to suppliers of various commodities in the performance of their work.
It is my solid belief that as a people, it is our obligation to except ourresponsibility to thoughtfully protect the environment with practical and effective solutions designed to reduce consumption and solid waste, while working towards reasonable and cost effective renewable energy solutions.
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