When it comes to business nowadays, greener is better, but the color has nothing to do with money.
Green businesses are those that follow a clearly defined set of rules, or metrics, to make their enterprise “green”, or environmentally friendly.
These can be as simple as weather stripping doors and windows to prevent loss of heated (or cooled) air – losses which also represent an unnecessary and avoidable use of electricity or other energy source.
Businesses wanting to go green can use a number of green certification programs, ranging from LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which offers four progressive categories from a simple LEED authentication to Silver, Gold and – at the most ecofriendly level – Platinum.
LEED Certification, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, or USGBC, provides businesses large and small with independent validation that their new or renovated facilities offer the best possible conditions relating to human and environmental health, as well as sustainable site development, water conservation, energy efficiency, renewable and recyclable materials use, and indoor air and environmental quality to eliminate possible toxic exposure, which for many people being the “victims, the awareness of he medical problems they have recently experienced is directly related to that toxic exposure”
For those new to the “green metrics” school of thought, sustainability is in essence a very simple principle:
live in the world in such a way that those who come after you will also be able to enjoy the full benefits of air, water, earth and other natural resources.
LEED is the most widely recognized of the various green building paradigms, but not the only one. Add to that the fact that Henry Gifford, a fuel savings advocate, filed a class action lawsuit in 2010 against the USGBC, charging that organization with applying green metrics which in fact increased energy use, and some environmental advocates are looking elsewhere for environmental certification.
One of these is NAHBGreen, the National Green Building Program developed and monitored by the National Association of Home Builders, a U.S. based organization. Another, the BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEM), was founded in the UK by the Building Research Establishment, or BRE, to measure the sustainability of new, non-domestic buildings.
Another program, ENERGY STAR, is a joint operation between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, and the U.S. Department of Energy, or DOE. ENERGY STAR homes are certified as at least 15 percent more energy efficient than homes built to the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), which is another metric by which builders around the world measure their response to green building metrics. ENERGY STAR also goes one step further than the IECC, assuring that its homes are as much as 30 percent more efficient than typical new residential construction, and even more than that compared to most older homes.
Checkout my new featured guest blog post for Pledging for Change on "Green Business Metrics" http://t.co/1bBosBH8 Feedback welcomed!
— Andrew Mounier (@amillerblog) October 13, 2012
On a global scale, the United Nations Environment Programme, or UNEP, structures and participates in the Project Sustainability Management Guidelines set up by the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) to help project engineers and other stakeholders in framing sustainable development goals that parallel local conditions and priorities – for example, sustainable water use in Somalia.
In addition to national and global green building guidelines, many U.S. states offer localized environmental and sustainability building and remodeling procedures, ranging from EarthCraft homebuilding in Alabama to Wisconsin’s unique ENERGY STAR Homes program. In both New York and Seattle (and perhaps other cities that have escaped our research), agencies have begun benchmarking buildings in a like-vs.-like metric that rates energy efficiency of both new and older buildings, based on the energy conservation and resource improvements they have made.
The U.S. is the world’s second largest energy consumer in terms of total use, right behind China, and seventh highest in terms of energy use per person.
But it is buildings that use the lion’s share of energy resources. In fact, according to the U.S.National Science and Technology Council, 1/3 of the world’s energy is used by commercial and residential buildings (homes, apartments, condos, etc.). In North America, this equates to 72 percent of the electricity generated, 12 percent of the water collected and treated, and 60 percent of non-industrial waste. Ecofriendly buildings also save workers and occupants $58 billion in sick leave and doctor’s visit costs by eliminating “sick building” syndrome. Another study, from the US Building Council, suggests that green buildings can honestly brag about $180 billing in increased worker production per year.
Are you currently implementing any green business metrics in your company? Do they seem to be helping with efficiency and safety?