Parking lots do not seem to change much to most people. A familiar lot may have been in place twenty years ago and will likely be there for twenty more. Who notices the condition of a parking lot as long there is a parking space available?
Many of the breakthroughs in sustainability have originated on college campuses. As a microcosm of the larger community, students and faculty have initiated programs, conducted experiments and set high objectives for improving water, energy and soil conservation while instituting aggressive recycling and composting programs. Private companies have funded many of these scholarly initiatives to gather data to support sustainability programs on a commercial or broader level.
In recent years, facility managers have become focused on constructing and maintaining buildings and complexes that are energy efficient, sustainable and produced from ecologically positive materials.
Of the many possible definitions of sustainability, this one seems the best: “A state in which the demands placed on the environment are met without reducing its capacity to allow all people to live well, now and in the future.”
Utilizing renewable resources should be a top priority for businesses and organizations focused on sustainability. Renewable resources such as oxygen, water, wind, and biomass (a byproduct of other renewable resources) replenish themselves naturally over time and represent natural alternatives to nonrenewable resources such as coal and petroleum in many products. Thus, businesses that emphasize renewable resources in their processes and procurement decisions minimize their environmental impact and, when employed correctly, maximize their bottom lines.
The impact of the sustainability advantages derived from building with recycled materials and installing energy-reducing systems are lost when the facility is maintained with ecologically damaging processes and chemicals. Sustainability in a LEED-certified, or any facility, is an ongoing process and maintenance plans should be devised to retain this discipline in such a high-performance building.
Sustainable products provide benefits to the population without diminishing public health or any segment of the environment during the product life cycle, from accumulation of the raw materials to the final disposal of all the parts.
Soybeans are the most versatile of commonly produced crops. Soy oil and other by-products have been used as ingredients in human and animal food, environmentally friendly bio-diesel fuel, bio-composites for construction, adhesives, carpet, upholstery, industrial lubricants, solvents and cleaners. Soy components are also being used in coolers, refrigerators, auto interiors and even footwear.
Colleges and universities are often on the leading edge of social and environmental initiatives. Today sustainability is a major area of focus on campuses and many breakthroughs have burst forth from all around the country.
Universities have been at the forefront of sustainability initiatives for decades. Academics were among the first to recognize the damage that human involvement imposes on our planet and the potential devastating impact of pollution and the depletion of resources on future generations.