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The top 5 green building stories in 2016

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reports that buildings are the largest contributors to climate change through carbon emissions. They are responsible for around 30 to 40 per cent of global energy usage, consume a third of total resources used, and generate 40 per cent of solid waste.

But buildings can minimize their own carbon footprint when they are powered with and generate clean energy. In the face of rapid population growth and urban migration, green buildings have increasingly grown in importance and have the potential to foster a more sustainable lifestyle among urban dwellers.

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http://www.eco-business.com/news/the-top-5-green-building-stories-in-2016/

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Sustainability Leaders Raise the Bar Rather Than Toe the Line

While in the past I have written summaries that looked back on accomplishments and challenges in sustainable development over the last 12 months, this year, I’ve decided to take a different approach. Instead, on the heels of COP22, I asked sustainability leaders to share their thoughts about where things are today, and where they see things going. Of course many were encouraged by the more than 365 companies that pledged to continue their carbon-reduction efforts at that meeting in Marrakech.

“Companies that are embedding sustainability at the core of their business strategy will be the successful leading brands of the next economy,” says KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz, founder and CEO of Sustainable Brands. “The Sustainable Brands Member Network, comprising over 60 brands representing $2.4 trillion in revenue, is the leading peer-to-peer, learning and networking group designed to support brands in meeting their sustainability goals and ultimately becoming leaders of the next sustainable economy.”

While there is comfort in these numbers, I also wanted to share thoughts from a sampling of companies across many sectors that have embraced sustainable development into their strategies, recognized the benefits and, if anything, are accelerating their efforts, which is good news for people, planet and profitability.

Cornerstone Capital: Exponential change will continue

“We are heartened by recent historical trends that climate change-mitigating technology, such as renewable power and battery technology, have fallen in price and increased in penetration faster than anyone predicted even a few years ago,” shared John K. S. Wilson, Head of Corporate Governance, Engagement and Research at Cornerstone Capital. “We believe that a combination of technological innovation, investor focus, consumer demand and governmental regulation, working together, has and will continue to produce exponential change.” 

General Mills: Climate action now common sense

“There is a business rationale, and an emerging consensus up and down the value chain that we need to act, which is why we have made ambitious commitments to support sustainability – through water, climate, our operations and our ingredients,” said Jerry Lynch, Chief Sustainability Officer at General Mills. “These commitments better position us to partner broadly on more resilient supply chains.”

Hostelling International: Sustainable Development Goals as a roadmap

Hostelling International USA CEO Russ Hedge serves as a Vice Chair for the Affiliate Group of the UN World Tourism Organization. In support of 2017 as the UN Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, his company is embracing the 4 Sustainable Development Goals they feel are “most relevant to our brand and nonprofit mission: Quality Education (SDG#4); Sustainable Cities and Communities (#11); Responsible Consumption and Production (#12); and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (#16). To support this, HI USA is creating resources for the greater public to raise awareness of sustainable travel, themed Pack Your Impact. These include guides, tools, and activities rolled out throughout 2017 designed to show the traveling public fun and innovative ways to be a more sustainable traveler.”

AMD: First-Mover advantage on climate change

AMD is proud that our company-wide climate targets are certified as “science-based” by the Science-Based Targets Initiative. AMD continues to build on our history of setting and achieving climate goals, which we will aggressively and voluntarily pursue into the future, regardless of the regulatory environment,” said Tim Mohin, Senior Director of Corporate Responsibility for AMD Public Affairs.

Dow: Sustainability key part of how we do business

"At Dow, sustainability is an integral part of who we are as a company and how we do business. We are developing blueprints, through our 2025 Sustainability Goals, for a sustainable planet and society and have long been - and remain - committed to applying science expertise to create sustainable solutions to some of the world's greatest challenges," said Neil Hawkins, Corporate VP and Chief Sustainability Officer at Dow. “What exactly does that look like from an implementation perspective? "We are implementing natural capital decision-making on a global business scale that has never been done before and are also well on our way to our goal of 750 MW of clean energy capacity, making Dow a world leader in renewable energy use.”

Miami University: Climate change education critically important

Doug Hammerle, Director of Energy Systems at Miami University, shares how they not only serve as a model, but are working on educating the next generation of sustainability leaders: “Miami University is a public university – that implies responsible use of resources in addition to learning. For us it means smarter use of resources, and learning among staff and faculty, as well as students. Sustainability at Miami University means reducing waste by increasing efficiency and being a model for innovative approaches to land, water and fuel use on campus. We want to preserve what we have and we want to grow leaders who will take sustainability to new areas and levels.”

Conclusion

While there was a great deal of attention – and not to diminish the importance of the agreement signed at COP 21, it is important to note that in many ways the commitments made by both the private and public sectors in Paris (and reaffirmed and ratified over the last year) weren't actually tremendously additive to what was going on already. And as the economics and coat curves play out, the transition will only accelerate. That’s borne out by companies such as Unilever: Back in May, Unilever announced that its portfolio of Sustainable Living brands were growing 30 percent faster than the rest of its business and delivered nearly half the total company growth in 2015.

Lastly, I turned to Aman Singh, a close friend, an accomplished journalist and one of the most ‘connected’ people I have met in the sustainability space, who now works with organizations of varying size and needs on sustainability communications strategy through RF|Binder. “I find our sector in a similar place as it was in 2008, right in the middle of the financial crisis,” she recalled. “I am reminded again that it is at the precipice that we evolve. When we’re put on the offensive, we emerge stronger – and that’s the ethos and mindset that I am going to take forward, and every business professional I have spoken with, every Twitter chat I have participated in, every podcast I have heard, and every op-ed I have read has shared my passion and commitment.”

With that in mind, welcome 2017.


 

John Friedman is Sustainability Manager at WGL. Prior to that, he headed corporate responsibility communications for Sodexo worldwide. He is an award-winning communications professional and internationally recognized sustainability expert with more than 20 years' experience in internal and… [Read more about John Friedman]

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777 Main Street, Hartford CT

Bruce Becker of Becker + Becker Associates, Fairfield-based green development and architecture firm, welcomed Governor Malloy, Mayor Bronin, numerous state and local project partners to a green building celebration this morning at 777 Main Street, Hartford in recognition of the building’s recent USGBC LEED Platinum certification.

Bruce Becker stated, “This building represents a collective will to bring people home to downtown Hartford.  In addition 777 Main serves as a model for sustainable development. We have demonstrated that it is possible that we can live and thrive in Connecticut with a 55% overall reduction in energy use.”

777 Main is LEED® Platinum-certified and a net-zero energy building, producing its own heat, hot water and electricity without combustion of fossil fuels via a 400KW fuel cell and 115KW solar array. The project incorporates advanced technologies including energy and heat-recovery, Nest thermostats, high-efficiency water-source heat pumps, LED lighting and occupancy sensors, high-performance interior envelope, regenerative-drive elevators, and 11 electric car-charging stations.

Governor Malloy highlighted the state’s success in creating a housing department responsible for the initiation of over 18,000 new homes and over $1 billion of investment, emphasizing efforts to try to build housing downtown.  The governor noted, “in these buildings, to see a fuel cell used, this is a perfect use.  If you’re able to capture the heat you go from about 47% usage to 97% (efficiency).” 

The project’s installation of solar panels, in addition to the 400KW fuel cell, qualifies the building as a microgrid, the first in the nation financed with C-PACE, facilitated through the Connecticut Green Bank and Greenworks Lending.  Becker added, “with Micro-grid integration, it is possible to reduce CO2 impacts by 80% and airborne pollutants by 99.8%.”

Mayor Bronin credited the success of the project to both the tenacity of Bruce Becker as well as the commitment of the governor, through CRDA, to the revitalization of downtown.  The Mayor added, “to be able to see today not just the conversion of a vacant, empty commercial building brought back to life as a center of vitality in the core of our city but to also have the building be LEED Platinum is a home run, it’s exactly what we want to see in this city.” 

 Becker closed his remarks by stating, “While we have set a new standard in Connecticut and Hartford’s largest apartment buildings by achieving LEED Platinum, our work is still cut out for us in a more important regard.  We now have to share our lessons with others so that all new development embraces these principles as the norm, not the exception.” Becker thanked the public agencies that have helped to make the project possible including the State, City, OPM, DEEP and DRS, and the private corporations Greenworks Lending, Eversource and UIL. 

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3/4 of Millennials Would Take a Pay Cut to Work for a Socially Responsible Company

Three-quarters (76 percent) of Millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work and nearly two-thirds (64 percent) won’t take a job if a potential employer doesn’t have strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices, according to the 2016 Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement Study. The study reveals that meaningful engagement around CSR is a business – and bottom line – imperative, impacting a company’s ability to appeal to, retain and inspire Millennial talent (that’s a business case if we ever heard one).

More than any other generation, Millennials see a company’s commitment to responsible business practices as a key factor in their employment decisions:

  • 75 percent say they would take a pay cut to work for a responsible company (vs. 55 percent U.S. average)

  • 83 percent would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues (vs. 70 percent U.S. average)

  • 88 percent say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues (vs. 74 percent U.S. average)

  • 76 percent consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work (vs. 58 percent U.S. average)

  • 64 percent won’t take a job from a company that doesn’t have strong CSR practices (vs. 51 percent U.S. average)


“Millennials will soon make up 50 percent of the workforce and companies will have to radically evolve their value proposition to attract and retain this socially conscious group,” says Alison DaSilva, EVP of CSR Research & Insights at Cone. “Integrating a deeper sense of purpose and responsibility into the work experience will have a clear bottom line return for companies.”

Millennials seek involvement in corporate social responsibility

Not only do Millennials want to hear what their employers are doing to be more responsible, they want to be co-creators and facilitators of CSR solutions. This group is the most likely among American generations to want to be directly involved in a company’s CSR efforts:

  • 88 percent think it is important their employer shares goals, progress and achievements related to CSR efforts (vs. 75 percent U.S. average)

  • 89 percent want to be active participants in helping their company improve its responsible business practices by providing feedback, ideas and potential solutions (vs. 78 percent U.S. average)

  • 89 percent expect employers to provide hands-on activities around environmental responsibilities in the workplace (vs. 77 percent U.S. average)


“For Millennials, it’s not enough to simply work for a company that’s doing good,” says Lisa Manley, EVP of CSR Strategy at Cone. “This generation wants to get their hands dirty – providing ideas, suggesting improvements and participating in efforts on the ground. Companies that give Millennials opportunities to get involved will be rewarded with a more engaged and invested workforce.”

Millennials look to companies to help make an impact inside and outside the office

This always-on generation feels their work and personal lives are increasingly blended (81 percent), so it’s no surprise they want companies to provide opportunities to make a difference beyond the “9 to 5” work schedule. Millennials are significantly more likely than their older cohorts to view employers as conduits to making an impact both inside and outside the company walls:

  • 83 percent want their company to provide support and resources for them to make positive social and environmental changes at home (vs. 70 percent U.S. average)

  • 84 percent want their company to help them identify ways to get more involved in their communities (vs. 65 percent U.S. average)

  • 83 percent wish their employer would provide volunteer opportunities they could do with friends or family (vs. 66 percent U.S. average)


“Millennials see where they work as an extension of who they are and what they stand for,” Manley says. “For this generation, it’s important to work for an organization that gives them the opportunities to make a difference in all aspects of their lives, whether that’s in the office or out in their communities.”

Millennials seek diverse volunteerism opportunities

Just as Millennials see their jobs as an extension of their personal brands, they expect the volunteerism opportunities provided to them to be just as diverse as they are. Although Millennials still see traditional opportunities such as company-wide days of service and corporate-led activities as important, they are more likely to prioritize a range of options that allow them to multi-task during the day, put in sweat-equity after hours or take a sabbatical to fully focus on service. Millennials seek volunteerism activities including:  

  • Corporate-led activities (83 percent vs. 67 percent U.S. average)

  • Company-wide days of service (81 percent vs. 67 percent U.S. average)

  • Paid service leave (79 percent vs. 61 percent U.S. average)

  • Micro-volunteerism (76 percent vs. 63 percent U.S. average)

  • Service trips (75 percent vs. 54 percent U.S. average)

  • After-hours service opportunities (73 percent vs. 58 percent U.S. average)


And Millennials are not naïve in thinking employee engagement opportunities should only be about supporting personal passion points. This generation is nearly twice as likely as their Generation X peers to believe companies should provide opportunities focused on the social and environmental issues most important to the business (40 percent Millennial average vs. 21 percent Generation X average).

Meaningful personal benefits drive millennial engagement

When it comes to what inspires Millennials to get involved in CSR activities, Millennials value professional growth and financial gain slightly more than perks or personal recognition. Although making a meaningful difference trumps other motivations (94 percent), Millennials are more likely than the average American to be motivated by self-serving reasons:

  • Professional growth (93 percent vs. 87 percent U.S. average)

  • Financial (e.g., bonuses or gifts cards) (91 percent vs. 85 percent U.S. average)

  • Meaningful personal experiences (e.g., exploring new places, meeting new people) (90 percent vs. 76 percent U.S. average)

  • Personal recognition (87 percent vs. 79 percent U.S. average)

  • Perks (e.g., better parking spaces, “casual Fridays”) (86 percent vs. 74 percent U.S. average)


Reaching Millennials where they are

Millennials seek information about CSR efforts in different ways. Although the average American employee views a company email as the most effective way to be reached with engagement communications, Millennials prefer to learn about opportunities from a senior leader or supervisor (47 percent vs. 38 percent U.S. average), followed by collateral at events or around the office (35 percent vs. 31 percent U.S. average).

Millennials are also most likely to use social media to not only learn about efforts (79 percent vs. 55 percent U.S. average) but also as a way to share the impact they’re making at work with their broader social networks:

  • 76 percent want to share their own photos, videos or experiences on their personal social channels (vs. 52 percent U.S. average)

  • 75 percent would use designated company hashtags to share their own photos, videos or experiences (vs. 48 percent U.S. average)


Not surprisingly, Millennials are more likely to use a number of different social media platforms to share their employee engagement activities. Although Facebook remains the top channel (74 percent vs. 57 percent U.S. average), Millennials are nearly twice as likely to see Instagram (45 percent vs. 23 percent U.S average), Twitter (34 percent vs. 20 percent U.S. average) and YouTube (34 percent vs. 19 percent U.S. average) as effective channels.

“Millennials view social media as a place to curate and share content that reflects their values – and this generation is enthusiastic about showing how their work is making an impact in the world,” DaSilva says. “Companies that arm employees with the tools to make social media sharing as turn-key as possible will create authentic ambassadors for their CSR efforts and build the brand from the inside out.”

Source: Sustainable Brands

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Green building design is a smart business move, finds report

26 October 2016, source edie newsroom

A reduction in sick days, an improvement in productivity and increased collaboration between workers are among some of the key business benefits that are being realized through 'healthy' and 'green' office design and operation.

green building design is a smart business move

Saint-Gobain's new LEED ‘Platinum’-rated offices in Pennsylvania, which has seen the productivity of its call centre staff double thanks to its green building design features

Investment in green buildings is also a smart business move for building developers and owners as it can have a positive impact on property values and attract premium rents, according to a ground-breaking new report released by the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) this week.

--- READ THE REPORT HERE ---

WorldGBC chief executive Terri Wills said: “While our earlier work presented the overwhelming evidence between office design and improved health and wellbeing of workers, this report breaks new ground by demonstrating tangible action businesses are taking to improve their workspaces.

“The results are clear – putting both health and wellbeing, and the environment, at the heart of buildings, is a no brainer for businesses’ employees and the bottom line.”

The 50-page report, titled 'Building the Business Case', showcases 15 buildings from around the world that are leading the way in green building design through the likes of improved air quality, increased natural light and the introduction of greenery to create stronger connections between workers and the natural environment. These simple steps, the WorldGBC says, can have a dramatic impact on the bottom line by improving employee productivity and reducing absenteeism, staff turnover and medical costs.

Chair of the WorldGBC’s Offices Working Group Beth Ambrose added: “The business case for healthy buildings is being proven. All over the world, companies, both large and small, are redesigning their offices, changing working practices and trialling new technologies to improve the wellbeing of their staff, tenants and customers.”

Business case

Case studies detailed within the report include the Doncaster offices of UK construction firm Skanska, who’s BREEAM-UK ‘Outstanding’ building has seen 3.5 times fewer building-related sick days than the firm’s other UK offices, saving £28,000 in staff costs in 2015. Improvements to the site’s layout, noise and indoor air quality, and a central light well bringing more daylight into the building has also seen Skanska’s staff satisfaction with the office jump from 58% to 78%.

Another construction company, Saint-Gobain, has seen the productivity of its US call centre staff double and after moving into new LEED ‘Platinum’-rated offices in Pennsylvania, which house a fitness centre and more than 100 collaborative workspaces, including some outdoors.

The report identifies eight key factors in creating healthier and greener offices which can impact on the bottom line: 

1) Indoor Air Quality and Ventilation – a well-ventilated office can double cognitive ability;

2) Thermal Comfort – staff performance can fall 6% if offices are too hot and 4% if they too cold.

3) Daylighting and Lighting– a study found workers in offices with windows got 46 minutes more sleep a night than workers without them.

4) Noise and Acoustics – noise distractions led to 66% drop in performance and concentration;

5) Interior Layout and Active Design – flexible working helps staff feel more in control of workload and encourages loyalty.

6) Biophilia and Views – processing time at one call centre improved by 7-12% when staff had a view of nature.

7) Look and Feel – visual appeal is a major factor in workplace satisfaction.

8) Location and Access to Amenities – a Dutch cycle to work scheme saved €27m in absenteeism.

Within the report, WorldGBC calls on more businesses to assess key environmental factors which could affect the health and wellbeing of staff. Firms should survey employees to find out how they experience the buildings they work in, and assess the potential economic factors that green design could influence such as productivity, absenteeism and medical costs.

The report comes less than a month after a separate study carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health and the State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University discovered that employees working in certified 'green' buildings are likely to have better cognitive abilities, fewer 'sick building' symptoms and higher sleep quality scores than those working in non-certified buildings.
Source: http://www.edie.net

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