Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword. It’s here to stay and, for many companies, it is clear that recent interest in environmental stewardship is beginning to change business as usual for good.
With consumers increasingly buying into the green movement and making sustainable choices, there has never been a better time for companies to start to adopt green business practices. Companies are finding that their customers embrace shopping at stores or dining in restaurants that have proven environmental stewardship. People feel good about going to those places, and that can translate to more time spent shopping or more dollars spent at the register.
A company’s buildings can make a big impression on shopping habits. Perhaps even better is the advertising potential that can come from showing consumers firsthand just how sustainable your company is.
Through LEED certification, building projects receive an internationally recognizable, third-party verification that shows the world that a company means business regarding sustainability.
Energy Savings & Return on Investment
It’s clear that energy costs are on the rise, and this is hitting many businesses hard, as much of the money they earn goes into operating costs.
There are many ways in which buildings can reduce their operating costs and realize a large return on their investments. While most energy-saving measures require some extra money up front, they can pay dividends over a matter of a few years, providing a great return on investment over a building’s lifetime. When a company has numerous buildings, the savings can quickly multiply.
In addition to energy savings, companies can use sustainable materials and features in their buildings that can contribute to benefits that are more difficult to quantify, but can be worth more than the cost of energy. For example, employees in green buildings have been shown to be more productive and remain at their jobs longer than those working in typical buildings. The simple addition of natural daylight into a store has been correlated with increased sales of up to 40%.
To get the most bang for your buck, it is important to identify technologies and materials that will give the greatest payoff in the shortest amount of time.
By studying potential savings and alternative design features before a building is constructed, companies can optimize building performance in energy use, water use, and human comfort.
LEED for Retail and Volume Certification
LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a program offered by the U.S. Green Building Council which allows companies to quantify the sustainability of their buildings. It measures site design, water efficiency, indoor environmental quality, energy efficiency, and responsible material selection in building projects. Participation in the LEED process is voluntary and it demonstrates social responsibility and environmental stewardship. LEED for Retail is the version of LEED certification designed for stores, restaurants, and banks.
In addition to the benefits of lower operating costs and a healthier environment, LEED certification may allow projects to qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances, or other incentives.
Some cities and states are even beginning to require that buildings become LEED certified or meet certain criteria within the LEED system. Due to these types of requirements, developing an understanding of LEED is critical for companies doing work in several locations throughout the United States.
If your company is interested in constructing several LEED buildings, but the additional documentation work required for certification is a concern, LEED Volume certification is available. This process allows companies to create a LEED prototype which will act as a template for future buildings of similar design. Doing this allows the certification process to be streamlined and certification costs are reduced.
What solutions are best for my company?
Each business is different, and sustainable solutions that work for one company will not always make sense for another. No matter what option your company chooses in the realm of environmental design, it is important to stay true to your brand, company philosophies, and budgets.