There are few bigger buzz words today than "green". It has come to encompass any action that is beneficial to the environment. That popularity has brought environmental issues to the forefront of individuals, government, and private industry.
Not only has the momentum of the green movement has become so powerful as to be a major marketing tool for companies who contribute. Various incentives and benefits are certainly making it financially worthwhile, but it has also developed support from owners, managers, and employees, who want to go green whether or not it proves profitable.
Whatever your motivation, going green is good, and it is easier to do than ever before. New developments like green steel technology have enabled manufacturing and other businesses to get the equipment and facilities they need through a greener sourcing process. The most likely route for a successful green overhaul is in those facilities, whether it be a factory or simply offices.
To perform a successful green makeover of facilities, you need to address every function and space in it. Not surprisingly, utilities are a good first choice.
This is probably the most obvious one, and it is far-reaching within any facility. No matter how simple the work being done inside it, every building consumes water, electricity, gas, or some combination thereof. Any step that can be made to improve their efficiency can pay benefits for years. Monitoring and maintenance are essential to keeping utility consumption in check.
There's been enough said about insulation and caulk. It's time to find the low-key utility wasters that aren't so easily noticed. Water consumption can be easily traced. Simply have someone read the water meter at day's end on a Friday, after all operations have ceased, and then have it read again early Monday before anyone reports in. Any discrepancy could be a sign of a leak that warrants investigation.
Energy won't leak like water, but it can certainly be wasted. Poorly-maintained equipment is a notorious culprit. A lack of lubrication can cause machinery to work harder. Clogged air filters can strain HVAC systems, computers, and everything in between.
A green business pays attention to more than what goes on inside. Site considerations are essential too. Large buildings generate huge amounts of runoff. One inch of rain on a 50x100 foot building will yield over 3,300 gallons of runoff. Because the roof is smoother than green space, the water runs off much more rapidly than rain falling on grassy areas.
If it isn't properly managed, that much water can contribute to sudden urban flooding. Many American areas receive about 50 inches of rainfall per year, so imagine the impact on soil erosion of that much runoff. And don't forget the parking lot. Thousands of more gallons run quickly off asphalt and concrete, backing up storm sewers and threatening property and wildlife.
Many businesses are finding ways to capture that rainwater and use it to irrigate plants or perform functions previously done with municipal water, such as washing equipment. This two-pronged approach is an amazing green solution.
Another worthwhile point is green space. Many locations on a business site have traditionally been concreted or paved for easy upkeep, but more and more locations are choosing instead to plant grass or even gardens in those areas.
The philosophy has even expanded to rooftops, where many apartment buildings, businesses, and office buildings have put in green spaces for environmental benefit and for employee lounge spaces. This particular area has almost limitless creative potential, so put your people to work dreaming up ideas.
Whether it's for personal satisfaction, market enhancement, or tax breaks, more and more companies are finding ways to go greener with their buildings. The results are showing up in areas as diverse as flood control to power demand, employee morale to wildlife habitat. There's no sign of any reduction in the momentum of the environmentally-friendly mindset, so green has become much more than a buzz word.