Replacing non-renewable fuels and materials with renewable alternatives is a positive step toward sustainability. Many organizations, having recognized the moral and economic value to committing to more sustainable practices, have appointed Sustainability Directors and Managers to overhaul their systems and implement aggressive sustainability programs and solutions. For many of these Directors, their first action steps involve the replacement of non-renewable materials with suitable renewable alternatives.
Schools and universities are a fertile breeding ground for the new technologies and practices that drive sustainability efforts. Studies and projects leading to these advances are often funded by environmentally-conscious corporations. Recycling projects, composting, biofuel and biomass utilization, water use reduction, and alternative energy options are just a handful of the practices pioneered at universities. Many universities have almost entirely phased out petroleum and coal power, replacing it with cleaner, renewable solar, hydro, and wind power systems. New dormitories and academic buildings are being built or retrofitted to achieve LEED Certification standards. Universities also offer an environment for visionary, conservation-minded individuals to grow, experiment, and innovate.
Parks, on the state, municipal and national level, emphasize the proper use and conservation of natural resources. In doing so, park systems deliver on their central objective of providing natural settings for the healthy enjoyment of their patrons. Where feasible, parks set an example for other organizations by using sustainable products in their procurement. Park benches made from recycled materials, playgrounds produced from discarded rubber tires, and biobased asphalt marking and maintenance products are just a few sustainable practices being employed in parks nationwide.
A hospital’s mission to preserve and enhance the health and welfare of humans reaches beyond the doctor’s office. Hospitals are now doing their part to ensure the environment their patients live in is a healthy one. According to modern healthcare.com, healthcare facilities around the country are abandoning traditional fossil-fuel sources in favor of non-polluting, non-carbon, renewable sources. Wind, solar, and regional hydroelectric projects provide hospitals with the economic benefit of lower cost service with virtually no negative environmental impact.
As the supplier of some of the cornerstone materials in sustainable products, the agricultural industry is a key player in sustainability progress. From the soybean oils in bio-based paints to the corn for ethanol, agriculture can be viewed as the workhorse of the sustainability movement. Farmers are also inherently appreciative of water conservation and sensitive to the harmful effects of harsh chemicals on crops and the need for environmentally friendly fertilizers and pesticides. Consumer demand for organic produce and the growing backlash against GMO-crops have led to innovation in agricultural processes that has resulted in a more sustainable industry.
Other organizations with notable environmental presences include waste and recycling companies, public transportation and automobile manufacturers. In both cases, breakthrough developments are occurring in terms of fuel efficiency, alternative fuels and emissions reduction. As a result, consumers now demand more energy and fuel-efficient vehicles, and turn to sustainable leaders in the automotive industry when purchasing new vehicles.
Even commercial airplane manufacturers have made significant strides in reducing the amount of fuel-per-passenger. As a result, airlines are more profitable and emissions have been reduced.
How does your organization benefit from sustainable practices? Share your thoughts in the comments!