Buildings are more than just a place we come to work. They are places where we dream, design, create or sell our products. However, the operation of a building can also be a cost center for a business. Embracing energy efficiency, water conservation and waste reduction not only reduces utility costs but can also lead to increased productivity and a more engaged workforce.
In the last two hundred years, world population has grown from 1 billion to 7 billion and with that comes an unprecedented demand for resources (oil, gas, trees, water, food, etc.). The earth has inherent limits to its resources–how quickly we meet those limits (peak oil/water shortages) is often debated topic but costs for natural resources are rising as demand increases and the process of sourcing them gets more complicated, disruptive and expensive (e.g. fracking and deep ocean drilling). Minimizing dependency on energy, water and other resources is also a great risk mitigation strategy for a business.
The conversion of natural oil and gas into the energy that powers our buildings has a detrimental impact on our environment and health. When consumed, fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide (CO2), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), lead, nitrogen oxides (NOx), other toxins, and particulate matter. These “greenhouse gasses” then contribute to acid rain, cancer, smog, water contamination, respiratory illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis, many other health-related issues, and climate change. Additionally the more landfill we create the more methane is generated (methane is a greenhouse gas that is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide).
Our dependence on fossil fuels jeopardizes our national security. 40% of the fuels needed to continue operating our economy, primarily oil, come from other countries; the U.S. spends over $1 billion dollars per day on foreign oil, which is now the single largest contributor to the national debt. Furthermore, our dependence on foreign oil jeopardizes national security by weakening international leverage, undermining foreign policy goals, and forcing the U.S. to engage unstable or hostile regimes. This variety of impacts to our national security shows how important energy is to our planet.
Good is Good Business
Regardless of what you believe, implementing efficiency and reducing resource use will make your company more profitable. You don’t have to believe in the problem to believe in the solution. Addressing energy and water efficiency in your building can have very quick paybacks and save you money on your utility bill. This is low-hanging fruit that grows back over-and-over again. Done correctly this should result in more natural or better quality lighting that increases productivity. Your employees and customers also want to work and buy from a company that they deem are leaders in sustainability.