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.
More hospitals each year are embracing sustainable design by achieving the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) certification while constructing or retrofitting their facilities. The LEED program is administered by US Green Building Council using a strict set of criteria. As of 2013, only three hospitals had achieved Platinum LEED status, the pinnacle of environmental commitment, while 20 others had been awarded Gold status for their investment in sustainability.
Sustainability has evolved from an interesting buzz-word in the halls of industry and academia into a comprehensive strategy shaping institutional initiatives and producing innovative, active solutions to some of society’s most perplexing issues. One pillar of sustainability initiatives is minimizing the negative effects of chemical and energy misuse. Renewable and sustainable energy sources, elimination of harmful chemicals that pollute the air and water, and recycling of waste products are some general objectives of sustainability. Sustainable processes and products are constantly being developed and adopted at universities, municipalities, and corporations to achieve this mission.
Sustainability and competitive advantage are no longer mutually exclusive concepts. As the public becomes more aware of the realities of environmental abuse, many consumers have begun to look to companies that are creatively employing sustainable practices. And many sustainable products and practices today are less expensive to use and not as capital intensive to buy than traditional ones. Sustainable solutions may lower cost and improve efficiency, resulting in a more favorable bottom line and competitive advantage.
In my previous post I shared the importance of establishing a baseline for energy performance, setting goals and developing a plan as the first steps to a more sustainable operation. For public sector organizations hoping to identify existing conditions, I suggest contacting your State Energy Office. Many states offer basic energy audits at little, to no cost. If a State does not offer options to provide energy audits, there are a number of Energy Service Companies (ESCO’s) that may offer audit services as a standalone service or part of a larger comprehensive energy management program.
Sustainability occupies a prominent place in the Mission Statements of many global companies. The successful execution of sustainable practices can clearly demonstrate corporate responsibility, endear customers, save resources, and even enhance profitability. Sustainability initiatives require top-to-bottom commitment to a philosophical change in a company’s business approach. Some of the major obstacles include the inevitable trade-offs that occur as leaders weigh sustainable practices against profit expectations.
Soybeans have long been featured as the most versatile agricultural product in the world. While most soybean production ends up as components for animal feeds, a notable and growing percentage of the product can be found on retailer shelves in an amazing variety of products or in industrial applications that most would never have imagined.
As the need for global sustainability becomes increasingly recognized, politicians, company leaders, community groups, and individuals are proudly announcing their commitment to protect the planet for future generations. This is particularly true as more organizations realize the economic and marketing benefits of using and producing sustainable products and energy sources. The trend has taken on considerable momentum.
Emissions from conventional solvent-based traffic paints used for striping roads and parking lots are hazardous to our health and the environment. These paints give off high levels of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, a known contributor to ozone and public health hazard.