“Going green” should be a key objective for any company. A few of the rewards for embracing sustainability include a positive public image, cost savings and potential competitive advantage. Less tangible, but certainly real, is the heightened morale and sense of accomplishment that employees enjoy while participating in green projects. A culture of sustainability is important to the success of any initiative.
Full Commitment from University Administration
An impactful Sustainability Policy for any organization requires a strong commitment from top management. In a university or college environment, administrators and faculty must position themselves to support and mentor the execution of any strategic direction set by the policy.
Grants are important tools for implementing sustainability strategies. Naturally the most common grant categories grab the most attention and receive the most applications. Some others are important, yet less conspicuous. The United States Government is the biggest grantor of all, allocating over $4 billion in grants for environmental and sustainable projects alone.
It is no secret that sustainable programs are most successful when everyone participates. However, immediate buy-in from employees is not always a sure thing. How do companies incentivize employees to support corporate social responsibility?
Possibly the most profound statement that succinctly describes environmental responsibility is the phrase “pack it in, pack it out.” This message appears on campground signs throughout the country asking visitors to eliminate any trace of their presence as they leave. Sustainability may be defined with a similar message, but on a more global scale. We have a responsibility to preserve and protect vital resources so they may be enjoyed by future generations. But, unless the damaging activity of humanity reverses, this mission could become impossible.
Facilities managers faced with shrinking operating budgets can look to innovative capital improvement options to minimize their heating, lighting, and water usage costs over time. While some more drastic projects such as solar power installations, state-of-the-art windows and insulation, and maximum efficiency HVAC systems are more suitable for new construction projects, there are also low-cost options that can significantly improve efficiency of existing structures. The improvements discussed below offer the potential for significant progress toward an organization’s sustainability initiatives while markedly reducing operating costs.
Facilities and maintenance managers are faced with finding ways to do more with less. Cost reduction is a never-ending goal. In addition to these fundamentals objectives, many are challenged to adopt sustainable practices like reducing water usage, creating an efficient energy plan, eliminating harmful chemicals, reducing waste and developing practical recycling programs.
As companies and architects embrace the long-term benefits of sustainable construction and developing technology, more energy efficient buildings are being constructed to diminish the carbon footprint and significantly reduce energy and water consumption. The US Green Building Council is issuing a growing number of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications, a sign that building designs are moving toward more sustainability in construction. The trend is not only in the United States as new construction in the rest of the world is following a similar path.
Colleges and universities are the laboratories for sustainability practices. In recent decades, words like “sustainable” and “renewable” have found their way into the mission statements of most institutions. Whole departments and many courses of study focus on environmentally positive activity and resource management.
(And Helps Your Company Save Money)
Facilities and maintenance managers are commonly tasked with reducing costs while using eco-friendly products. Managers at parks, universities, and corporate facilities are often measured by an environmental scorecard with one of the key metrics being procurement of bio-based products. Initially, this may feel like being stuck between a rock and a hard place, as eco-friendly and bio-based products are not necessarily known as economical or superior performers. However, an increased demand for these products has resulted in an influx of bio-based alternatives to traditional products that offer greater environmental impact ratings and perform well enough to result in decreased product life cycle costs compared with traditional products.