We all want to do our bit for the environment, and there are many changes that both individuals and businesses can make. The recent Volkswagen scandal has put vehicle emissions firmly in the spotlight and finding more energy efficient transport solutions is certainly one way that many businesses can lessen their impact. According to the European Commission, however, buildings are responsible for more than a third (36%) of CO2 emissions within the EU, and a huge 40% of all energy usage. This includes both domestic and business premises and the EC estimates that simply improving energy efficiency in buildings could reduce both emissions and overall energy use by around 5%.
There are several reasons why businesses might want to become more eco-friendly. The first is simply because we’re all part of the global community and preserving the environment benefits everybody. Beyond that, however, reducing energy consumption will also have financial benefits as it will reduce energy spending over time. Any potentially high initial set-up costs in materials and innovative designs will more than pay for themselves in the long run. Consumers are also increasingly demanding greener products and suppliers. Your eco-friendly credentials, including the premises from which you operate, can be flagged up as a selling point for your company.
There are many businesses around the world boasting flagship eco-friendly buildings. The M1 Building, for example, is the headquarters of M1 Group, which owns and manages investments in a number of fields including energy, telecommunications and real estate. Located on the ‘corporate row’ in the heart of Beirut, the building incorporates a state-of-the-art Building Management System (BMS). Water conversation is a key element, with low consumption water fixtures, ‘grey water’ treatment and rain water collection all combining to reduce waste in this area. Energy-efficient heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting systems also add to the overall green credentials of the site.
In Norway, meanwhile, an office building has been unveiled that actually produces more energy than it consumes. Located near Oslo, Powerhouse Kjørbo was created by the Powerhouse consortium of Norwegian firms whose aim is to develop more energy-efficient buildings. The consortium includes architects, builders, a property management firm, an environmental organisation and an aluminium supplier. It utilises a number of measures including solar panels, insulation and tight-fitting walls, ceilings and windows to reduce heat loss.
Ståle Rød, chairman of the Powerhouse consortium, said: “As far as we know, this is the first building in the world that has been renovated into an energy-positive structure.”
Other famed eco-friendly buildings around the world include the PricewaterhouseCoopers building in London, which features an IT system allowing individual workers to control their own micro-climates and has been described as the most environmentally friendly building in the UK capital. The Bank of America in New York, meanwhile, features rain and waste water collection and the tower itself can be heated by the sun.
Not every business can make such great strides right now, but we can all do our bit to introduce greener measures to our work spaces.