Business owners are often intimidated by going green when they think about what it could cost. True, sustainable business practices are an investment, and a hefty one depending on the route you choose! However, with upwards of 55% of consumers seeking eco-friendly brands, there is profit to be found in the going green frenzy.
The graphic below from Fundera, a small business loan marketplace, outlines how you can maximize the benefits from your sustainability strategy. Whether you are starting from the ground up to build a LEED-certified office, or want to find small ways to make an impact, the options are boundless. Plus, grants like the SBIR program make it easy to fund your projects, so you can boast eco-friendly business without going deep into personal debt.
In construction, around half of non-renewable resources are used. That makes it one of the most damaging industries to the environment on the globe. And as the world races through the 21st century, more and more people are moving into urban areas that require constant development.
Sustainable construction. New ideas and innovative technology that can transform the industry and the way it operates giving hope to the future. But what does sustainable construction really mean, where is it up to now, and what does the future hold?
Raised Floor Solutions take a look…
What is sustainable construction?
The term sustainable construction can be interpreted in a number of different ways, but at its core it is about harnessing the latest technology and methods to build much needed infrastructure without cost to the environment.
Developments often go forward with a focus and drive on one particular need. Like that of an areas requirement of new houses or a new hospital, without considering the wider implications on the environment. Sustainable construction asks now that we pivot and consider the impact our infrastructure is having on the world around us. It often takes into account three themes known as the ‘triple bottom line’ which are the environment, social stability, and economic accountability.
Where is it up to?
Currently worldwide there are a number of agencies and organisations that have developed rating systems and standard for green building. Some countries have varying rating systems such as the UK which uses BREEAM and the US that uses LEED. Going forward though, it’s looking like these standards may saturate towards one worldwide standard. The rewards are often credits that are given to buildings that support initiatives that include things like sustainable materials or water conservation.
The future of sustainable construction
As the urban population grows, so does the necessity of green building. But how will it change and what technologies will emerge to make it a viable way to build and protect our future?
In recent years, as well as seeing an increase in new-builds taking on green technologies, we’re seeing retrofit energy efficiency too. This indicates that home owners and offices are looking to adapt their current buildings and homes to put less strain on the environment.
In cities around the world we are also seeing big name, high profile buildings being constructed that are pioneering ‘green’ building tech. It’s these leading designs that are inspiring architects and construction companies across the globe. From the Bullitt Centre in Seattle that was designed to be the greenest building in the world to the Council House 2 that was the first purpose built office in Australia to achieve a Six Green Star rating – green building is now a popular trend.
The biggest and most commonly cited drawback of sustainable building is cost. These new building methods, technologies, and materials don’t come cheap, and so many businesses are nervous to take their first steps into green construction. There is a saving to be made in the long run, however. Sustainable buildings cost much less to run and maintain, meaning that the initial offset is usually worth it.
Another common issue is the problem of actually sourcing sustainable materials, especially so on a large scale. In urban environments, the precedent is put on meeting a need, not caring for the environment, and so sourcing rarer more costly materials is never a priority.
As our greenhouse gases warm our Earth and start to see the damaging effects of the way we have lived we need to start considering new methods of creating infrastructure. Green methods. But change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, effort, and a conscious movement from the industries that make the biggest impact.
It is predicted that by 2050 the population of our planet will have grown by 3 billion, which means there's going to be many more people to feed, house and sustain. It's also predicted that 70% of the world's population will live in cities, so that means that energy efficient and sustainable building need to be built soon in order to meet demands.
This increase in demand is a fact that can no longer be ignored. The issues of creating buildings to meet the demand without having detrimental effects on other areas needs to be addressed sooner rather than later, because later will undoubtedly be too late to meet energy demands of more people living and working in our cities. These innovative approaches also mean that we can help save the planet by use of renewable energy that will sustain the building by being energy neutral.
Energy efficiency has many positives. It creates jobs, saves money and energy which is going to be essential to both businesses and homes in the future.
In the infographic below we take a look at just how creative, sustainable and energy efficient buildings can be. We take a look at some of the features and creative design concepts that make each of these buildings ‘greener' and more sustainable than their counterparts.
Read on to find out more about some of the world's most incredible Energy Efficient and Sustainable Buildings.
This week Ethical Consumer launched the latest version of its flagship Ethical Consumer Markets Report, this year sponsored by Triodos Bank.
It was more good news for ethical markets with the value of all ethical spending in the UK growing to a robust £38 billion in 2015 up 8.5% from last year.
More ethical goods available
It was clear from the research that more companies, from small entrepreneurs to large multinationals, are bringing more ethical choices than ever before to modern consumer markets. These range from tiny, one person, operations making organic food products in their own kitchens, to Nissan’s latest range of electric cars.
This is the thirteenth consecutive year of growth for their Ethical Purchases section, reﬂecting the continued appeal of ethical markets in the UK.
This continued growth in ethical buying is also an encouraging trend at a point in time where global political developments, for those concerned about environmental and human rights issues, are not all that positive.
Key Trends from the report
1. Ethical Food bucking the trend. Strong sales of Organic and Freedom Food (RSPCA)-certified products helped Ethical Food & Drink sales grow by 5.3%, despite a 0.9% decline in the value of the overall UK food & drink market.
2. The Green Car revolution. The Green Car industry (which includes electric and hybrid cars, as well as cars that emit less than 100g of CO2 per km) continued to boom and is now worth £8.4 billion, owing to improvements to infrastructure and increased consumer awareness.
3. Local Shopping for ethical reasons grows significantly in 2015. Consumers increased ethical spending in their community by 11.7%.
The full Ethical Consumer Markets Report is available from their website.
As times change and we worry more about the environment, going green has become big business for industries of all sizes. From entrepreneurs that work from their homes to small businesses and major corporations, the desire to reduce our carbon footprint and appease our target audience is a top priority. Unfortunately, many business owners only scratch the surface of an eco-friendly workplace. Here are some green solutions you may not have considered for your business:
1. Choose an Energy Efficient Office Space
When shopping for a home, you check to ensure that the building is energy efficient. An inefficient residence would lead to a lot of energy being consumed and a ton of money wasted. The same is true for a commercial property. As you shop for the ideal location to start your business be sure to keep efficiency in mind. You want to find an eco-friendly property like steel buildings. Companies like Armstrong Steel facilitate eco-friendly design in steel manufacturing projects, which can be customised to meet the needs of your company without costing too much.
2. Consider Periodic Telecommuting
Whether you have a team of three employees or thirty, allowing them to work remotely on a regular basis can cut down on energy consumption and save your business money. There are tons of technologies out there you can invest in to make a remote workplace possible. VoIP phone services ensure that phone calls can be answered, email, cloud software and other applications make it easier for employees to interact and collaborate as if they were in the office.
Even if you need your staff to come in the office on occasion, allowing them to stay home even one or two days out of the week would be a few days out of the month that the office building is not consuming any energy thus reducing your carbon footprint.
3. B.Y.O.C. (Bring Your Own Cup)
Coffee and water supplies can really eat at a company’s bottom line. Not to mention the amount of waste that takes place on a daily basis. The average coffee drinker consumes about 2-3 cups of coffee at work per day. Multiply that by the number of employees you have in the office and you’re looking at hundreds of cups, and plastic utensils being thrown away each month. Having employees to bring their own mugs and water bottles to work can cut down on this waste.
4. Shut Down Daily
Do you know how much energy is wasted in an office on a daily basis simply due to devices that are turned off but plugged in? Leaving computers, printers, copiers, and other office equipment on sleep mode or turned off and plugged in can suck the energy like a vampire causing an increase in the energy bill and your carbon footprint. It is ideal to hook all of your devices up to a power strip so that you can turn them off completely and unplug them at the end of a day.
Going green definitely has its advantages for business owners. Not only does it show that the business cares about the environment and their customer’s well-being, but it also saves them money. If you’ve been looking for ways to green your business, you should really consider the above four options as each of them can provide substantial savings and significantly reduce your company’s carbon footprint.
It’s unfortunate that sustainability plays second fiddle in business. The need for businesses to turn over a profit shouldn’t be at the expense of the environment. Businesses need to do more to minimize their contribution to landfill and carbon emissions. Rather than try to implement everything themselves, businesses can leverage technology and the help of sustainability partners in order to make their business more eco-friendly. Here are 5 ways businesses can do more to help the environment.
Correctly disposing printer cartridges.
Over 30 million printer cartridges are sent to landfill every year. The cartridges are harmful to the environment because inks and plastics that are in the cartridges can contaminate the ecosystem, making any contaminated water undrinkable and any contaminated soil unable to grow any agriculture.
Additionally, used printer cartridges can take anywhere from 400 to 1000 years to degrade.
Businesses can help to close the loop by participating in schemes where the original printer manufacturers ethically recycle used printer cartridges. Suppliers like Cartridges Direct have partnered with Cartridges for Planet Ark to help businesses implement a system where they can mail their used printer cartridges to be recycled at no cost to the business. The business only needs to implement a process where their staff will ethically dispose and dispatch the used cartridge so that it is received by the right recycler.
Setting up a stationery recycling station
Businesses waste a lot of money on buying new stationery rather than recycling unused stationery. Set up a stationery station such as a cupboard where employees can place any unused stationery items like pens, pads, books or staplers for other employers to use. This should cut down the business’s stationery expenses and minimise the amount of unused stationery that gets disposed.
Setup recycling categories and partner with organisations that can recycle the items ethically
It’s important that your business encourages its employees to recycle ethically. Make things easier for them by creating disposal boxes that give them the option to recycle items easily. Place bins around the office that give employees the option to dispose:
- General rubbish
Educate people within the business why and how they should dispose their items responsibly.
Minimise the building’s reliance on artificial lighting
Artificial lighting accounts for approximately 15% of businesses overhead expenses. Most businesses that consume electricity are on an electricity grid that generates power by burning fossil fuels such as oil and coal, which causes carbon emissions. Businesses should seek ways to improve the amount of natural light that is used within their business. This can be accomplished by installing skylights, solar tubes, large windows, mirrors and reflective glass and metals.
Additionally, if the business still needs to use artificial lighting, installing energy-efficient lightbulbs can significantly reduce the amount of energy consumption that the business uses. LED lightbulbs can save a business up to 60% on their annual energy bill due to the minimal energy consumption from the bulb’s technology.
Encourage employees to donate their items
A lot of electronics and clothes end up in landfill. Businesses can setup a donation area so that employees can donate any used items from their home to charities such as St. Vincent De Paul. This way, the items are recycled and it lowers the amount of waste going to landfill.
Saving the environment is almost starting to sound like a cliché, but it is more important than ever for the sake of future generations. If the human race wants to preserve the natural resources that we have today and enjoy a healthy quality of life in the future, it’s essential that we implement the necessary sustainable practices.
Sports Direct have hardly been out of the headlines in recent weeks due to its treatment of warehouse staff. But is Sports Direct the only sportswear retailer with a poor workers' rights record?
Ethical Consumer help answer this question in their new guide to sports and outdoor shops.
The guide rates and ranks 13 retailers, looking at their usual range of issues from toxic chemicals and environmental reporting to workers' rights and supply chain management policies.
As you will see from the statistic on the image above it's not a rosy picture. However, they also reveal their Best Buy recommendations showing that some options are better than others.
We hope you find the guide useful and informative.
These days, it's becoming more important than ever for companies to implement green measures. Going green in business is not only a necessity in order to help the environment, but it's also become a critical factor for their success.
There are many ways in which becoming more eco-friendly can benefit a business, from keeping employees happy and healthy, to improving sales and consumer loyalty. You don't have to make huge changes in order to see these benefits, just take a look at some of the suggestions below, and find out more about how going green can improve your business both internally and externally.
Manufacturing forms one of the major pillars of the economy. This sector produces goods that you need almost every day and generates thousands of jobs. However, despite the good, this very industry is guilty of causing damage to the environment. Luckily, changes are being made and the negative impact on the environment is reducing as compared to yesteryears. If you are into manufacturing, these are four ways you can make your processes eco-friendly.
Conduct Regular Energy Audits
Every process in the manufacturing unit will consume lots of energy. While there is no way to completely eliminate this need, you can definitely adopt practices that are energy-efficient. One of the best ways to minimize the usage of energy is to understand and know the percentage of energy that different equipment and processes consume. Once you have a fair idea of this, you can make the necessary changes. Conduct regular energy audits to find out where the energy is being expended, figure out the different ways you can make improvements. For example, switch incandescent bulbs with CFL, replace HVAC filters, opt for programmable thermostats to reduce energy waste. Bring in an expert if required.
Utilize Renewable Energy
Factories and manufacturing units consume a considerable amount of energy. Even if you take steps to minimize the consumption, you won’t be able to reduce it beyond a point. However, you can tap into renewable energy sources such as the wind, sunlight, rain, etc. Using a combination of two or more sources will ensure that even when one element is absent, the others can cover the energy requirements.
Reuse and Recycle Waste
Encourage the use of recycled materials within your facility. Whatever waste is produced in the unit, try to recycle whatever is possible. If you don’t have the capacity to do cardboard recycling or glass recycling, send the recyclable material to a recycling company. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to invest in a recycling machine if you produce large amounts of recyclable waste material regularly. If you have aluminum or wood as your by-products, you can donate the sawdust to farms around you. They can use it for landscaping and bedding for their animals. Discarded paper or cardboard can be used for packaging. Keep a check on your waste and inspect on how you can re-use or recycle it.
It would be wise to implement a water-efficiency program in manufacturing facilities. This would help in conserving large amounts of water and saving money on buying, heating, treating and disposing of water. Call in a local water company to audit your unit. They can devise strategies and methods that will help you in conserving water. Additionally, it will also assist you in minimizing discharges to sewers and waste water. Invest in water-saving products and you will reap positive results in the long run.
Look for alternative methods of making your processes eco-friendly. Implement the techniques that have been proven successful. Don’t be afraid to experiment or try out something new.
Erich Lawson is passionate about saving environment by effective recycling. He has written a wide array of articles on how modern recycling equipments can be used by industries to reduce monthly garbage bills and increase recycling revenue. You can learn more about environment savings techniques by visiting Northern California Compactors, Inc blog
Since Ethical Consumer published their recent guide to ethical money and finance they have added some great new content to their website that we thought you'd like to know about.
Firstly they've used their subscriber tools to take a dive into some of the data behind the recent guide to Savings Accounts.
They focus on two brands – Nationwide building society and The Co-operative Bank.
Both are well-known high street brands that promote their ethics to customers.
They investigate how their claims stack up, and what the differences are between them?
New ethical banking video
They have also produced a new video in which co-editor Rob Harrison, talks about how to choose an ethical bank account and introduces the new carbon divestment campaign.
This video is also on their new YouTube channel. Please check it out and share it with friends.
We hope you find the content useful and informative.