When it comes to environmental buzzwords, “Going Green” is one that has spread across multiple industries, including real estate and field service management. Simply put, going green refers to any practice that is considered environmentally safe – anything from processes that emit fewer greenhouse gases to measures that reduce carbon footprint. As emission levels of greenhouse gases increase and global warming starts permeating daily conversations around the globe, the onus to adopt more environmentally friendly systems becomes imperative. That brings us to the topic of this blog: Green Buildings. So what exactly are green buildings and why are they an important topic of discussion? Let’s break it down.
Defining Green Buildings
The best example of a formal, codified definition of a green building would be the one by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which states “Green building is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction.” In other words, the construction, as well as maintenance, of green buildings has a less pronounced impact on the environment of the area around it.
Surprisingly, the concept of green buildings is not new, as humans have been using naturally available materials such as mud, straw, wood, and stone, as well as clean, renewable energy from the sun, the wind, and water for millennia before the advent of modern construction methods. Today’s green buildings use minimal resources, reduce waste and maximise occupant health, while also increasing productivity levels. They do this by making efficient use of the available land, materials, and energy and implementing an integrative project approach which allows occupants to collaborate and share ideas that can bring a positive environmental effect.
Advantages of Going Green
Arguably, the biggest advantage of going green is the satisfaction that comes from knowing you’re doing your part for the environment. For example, a report released by UNEP and GABC shows that by 2050, the real estate sector has the potential to make energy savings of over 50% while reducing emissions by as much as 84 gigatonnes of CO2. And as environmental policies become more strict, businesses can benefit in the long run by implementing green building measures in their workspace.
How It Impacts Service Businesses
A report by The Delphi Group shows that in 2014, Canada’s green building industry generated $23.45 billion in GDP, adding nearly 300,000 full-time jobs in the process. On a global scale, green building measures could save an estimated €280 to €410 billion – almost double the annual electricity consumption of the US. For service businesses, this adds up to a lot of costs savings, as many of them – particularly construction and utilities – rely a lot on electrical assets and have steep electrical bills.
The benefits go beyond economics and the environment, as green building initiatives have been shown to bring about positive social impacts as well. Most of these benefits involve improving the well-being and health of their tenants and residents. For example, workers and technicians in green, well-ventilated offices have recorded a 101% increase in cognitive scores, and those in offices with windows slept an average of 46 minutes more per night. As a field service business, implementing simple measures like this can greatly improve the efficiency of your back office operations.
As you can see, field service businesses have only to benefit from implementing green building initiatives as the environmental, economic and social advantages far outweigh the somewhat higher cost of implementation. To find out how your business can take the first step towards being more environmentally friendly, read our blog on reducing paper usage.