By: Claude Goguen, P.E., LEED AP
What exactly is all the fuss about sustainability?
There are many definitions of sustainability floating around out there, and even more misconceptions. In its broadest sense, sustainability is the utilization of resources in a manner that meets current needs while protecting the environment and preserving the needs of future generations.
Many – too many, really – people think you need be a card-carrying environmentalist to be sustainable, or to care about sustainability. You don’t, and you should care, and here’s why.
Sustainable choices are often just good business decisions
I went to a precast plant the other week where they had installed windows to let in natural light, energy-efficient lighting and heating to save money on energy costs, and a rainwater reclamation tank to save on water costs. I commended them on their efforts toward sustainability. They quickly shrugged off my compliment by saying they were simply employing common sense methods to save money. Whether you realize it or not, these decisions are not just common sense, they are also sustainable business practices.
This is no passing fad
There are naysayers who believe that this green building movement will come and go like the pet rock or the flip phone. Sustainability is here to stay. The U.S. market for green building has grown from $10 billion in 2005 to $78 billion in 2011. In 2012, the total market is expected to exceed $85 billion, and according to a latest McGraw-Hill study, the green construction market will hit almost $250 billion by 2016. Green practices are becoming part of standard construction and future specifiers are learning about sustainable development as part of their education. It’s not an option, it’s a requirement.
When they need green credentials, they’re looking at you
Contractors, engineers and architects can only earn LEED ® credits with the help of companies they work with. This means selecting material providers who can not only add benefit the project’s financial bottom line, but also add sustainable benefits. If you’re asked to fill out a supplier “scorecard” or “survey” that tests your operation’s sustainability, do you feel confident that you’ll still be the company they choose?
See part 2 of this post for the other two reasons.