As the effects of global climate change become more apparent, it’s becoming more important for organizations to utilize sustainable purchasing strategies. While some eco-friendly alternatives may have a higher cost up front, they could actually cost less than incumbent products over their product life cycle.
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.
“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.
Without preventative care, asphalt parking lots will begin to crack and show age after a few years, especially when exposed to severe weather, heavy traffic, and overdoses of harsh sunlight. Planned preventative maintenance keeps parking lots looking great and saves money over the long haul by preserving the underlying substrate, thus delaying the costly capital expenditure associated with laying new asphalt.
The United Nations recognizes three pillars of sustainability: economic development, social equity, and environmental protection. One of the major hurdles for implementing sustainable practices are the perceived costs involved. Switching to environmentally positive fuel sources, improved management of toxic emissions, waste management and recycling, and the reduction of water usage typically requires a significant investment.
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.
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.
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.
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.