As environmental issues have forced their way into the public eye, more of us are incorporating green practices, like LED lights and recycling, into our lives. Most of us take notice of efforts by business to contribute in the move toward sustainability as well. This is becoming a feature that people look for in choosing where and with whom to work. It’s an edge — a method by which you can improve your company’s bottom line while acting responsibly toward your customers, employees and the environment.
One indicator of the growing importance of sustainability in the workplace can be seen by checking the statistics on LEED certification. Having this credential can be a real plus when marketing commercial space.
According to the U.S. Green Building Council:
675.9 million square feet of (U.S.) real estate space became LEED certified in 2014, the largest area ever to become LEED-certified in a single calendar year, and a 13.2 percent increase in total certified square-footage from 2013. 2015 looks to be another record-breaking year with 2,870 projects certified representing nearly 464 million square feet of real estate as of August 1, 2015.
Research and development of green solutions is a rapidly growing field, promising more change and options for sustainability. The Guardian reports that “the 2012 Global Green R&D Report found that private investments in clean technology and green economic and commercial solutions reached $3.6tn for the period 2007-2012. This included more than $2tn in renewable energy, $700bn in green construction, $241bn in green R&D, $238bn in the smart grid and $231bn in energy efficiency.”
Steps We Can All Take
So we in CRE can expect more of the properties we handle to include some sustainability features, and we can expect these to become even more important to our clients and partners. How can we demonstrate our commitment to sustainability in our own workplace? Here are some specific, practical steps that will make your office more efficient and more green:
#1: Get paperless
It’s true that moving to digital documents is a means to save trees and paper. But the biggest payoff for doing this is in data recall. Having everything in digital form allows you to use your system’s search functions to locate specific documents efficiently. Paperless offices can save physical storage space that could be better used otherwise and thousands of hours each year in this way.
Much of the business we’ve traditionally done with paper can now be done digitally. Software such as DocuSign or e-signature lets you securely sign documents and get signatures from clients and vendors without printing a single page.
There is bound to still be a certain amount of paper used in the office, but the goal should be zero waste. Providing desk-side recycling containers makes it easy for everyone to participate in an office wide effort. Depending on the amount collected, recyclable paper may even be something the business can sell.
#3: Save Trips
Face to face meetings can be essential, but sustainable practice requires that we consider options when possible. Take advantage of broadband network connections and powerful real-time instant messaging and teleconferencing tools. This saves money and energy.
#4: Eliminate Junk Mail
Junk mail is extremely wasteful as well as irritating. Try free services that will remove you from mailing lists. You can also remove your name from the Direct Marketing Association’s member prospect list.
Finally, as you get your own workplace in order, pay attention to the companies with which you do business. Network with like-minded companies and seek out green vendors. Making sustainability a priority is just smart business.