Sustainable land use and building construction are two ways to make a positive impact on the bottom line AND the environment. There is a growing market for green development and environmentally friendly products.
Sometimes being responsible is required by policies, codes, and regulations. In other areas it is a matter of landowners, builders, and businesses simply doing the right thing. There is a growing market not just for “green” products, but for companies and organizations that embrace and exemplify the principles of sustainability.
Click on the icons below for more information on relevant codes, policies, and regulations, as well as information and resources to help you be more environmentally—and socially—responsible. You can also explore business tools by sustainability topic by using the puzzle icons on the right.
Land Use and Development
Starting from the ground-up is the most effective way to incorporate sustainable design. The characteristics of the land have important implications for sustainability. Location is key. Infill projects utilize existing infrastructure and bring services to the urban core. Vegetation and green space are important for mitigating urban heat island effects and can be utilized for passive solar, saving on energy costs. Washes require careful planning for managing storm flows and water quality, and provide great opportunities to enhance recharge into our local acquifer. Site selection and careful planning will yield the best results in terms of how principles of sustainability can be incorporated into your project.
Green buildings are cleaner, fresher and take advantage of natural lighting. A study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that improving indoor air quality could save U.S. businesses up to $58 billion in lost sick time each year, with another $200 billion earned in increased worker performance. In the article, “Does Green Pay Off?” data is revealed that shows occupancy rates, rental rates, and sales prices per square foot are higher for Energy Star buildings than for comparable non-Energy Star buildings. Green buildings can also save in reduced energy and water costs. With all of these savings combined, building green really does pay off!
Purchasing, Operations and Vehicles
Environmental responsibility does not stop once building construction is over, but is an ongoing process that is influenced by the products we buy, the way we operate and maintain buildings, how we get around on the job, and the behaviors of our workforce.
Maximizing energy and water efficiency can be as simple as looking for leaks, replacing traditional light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs, and using recycled paper. The more we invest in sustainable operations, the greater the positive impact will be. Other important considerations include addressing hazardous materials onsite, utilizing alternative fuel, and developing zero-waste loops.
“Greening” the workplace has positive benefits for a healthy, happy workforce. Getting employees involved reinforces the importance of individual action and increases results. Developing sustainable practices that require participation by all sets an example that employees can apply to their lives outside work. This encourages leadership from which the entire community can benefit.