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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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GRI Launches World’s First Global Standards for Sustainability Reporting

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) released new global sustainability reporting standards, which it says will enhance corporate transparency worldwide. The standards give companies a common language for disclosing non-financial information, and will help firms “make better decisions” and contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, or Global Goals).

The GRI Standards are the latest evolution of GRI’s reporting disclosures, and feature an improved format and new modular structure over the GRI G4 Guidelines on which they are based. The G4 Guidelines, which are currently the world’s most widely-used sustainability reporting disclosures, will be phased out by July 1, 2018, to be definitively replaced by the new GRI Standards.

“The Standards are more straightforward, making them accessible to potentially millions of businesses worldwide,” said GRI Interim Chief Executive Eric Hespenheide. “Sustainability reporting, using the GRI Standards, is the best way for a company to disclose its economic, environmental and social impacts, thus providing insights into its contributions – positive or negative – toward sustainable development.”

The new Standards are a set of 36 modular Standards that facilitate corporate reporting on topics such as greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water use, and labor practices. The new format allows GRI to update individual topics based on market and sustainability needs, without requiring revisions to the entire set of GRI Standards. The GRI Standards are centered on materiality – focusing on the topics that represent the most significant impacts of the organization and are most important to organizations’ stakeholders – which supports sustainability reporting that is tailored to each individual company. Companies will be able to report in accordance with the GRI Standards at Core or Comprehensive level, or disclose individual topics to meet specific reporting needs.

With input from business, labor, government, investors, civil society, academia and sustainability practitioners, the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB), a fully independent standard-setting body, developed the GRI Standards in the public interest. This multi-stakeholder process is a critical element of GRI’s commitment to making sustainability considerations integral to every company's decision-making process.

“The GRI Standards empower companies to effectively understand and communicate their environmental and social impacts,” said Vice Chair of the GSSB Michael Nugent. “Collaborating across the public and private sector, we designed these standards to guide sustainability reporting for any company, in any industry, for decades to come.”

According to research published in the MIT Sloan Management Review, 75 percent of senior executives in investment firms agree that a company’s sustainability performance is important to consider when making investment decisions. Most of the world’s biggest companies publish this information, but new research from Corporate Citizenship shows that many organizations are still struggling to address long-term value in their reports. Luckily, GRI says that the new Standards will enable many more organizations – including small companies – to provide investors, consumers, employees and other stakeholders with the performance information they need.

Source: http://www.sustainablebrands.com

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Amazon Wind Farm to Help Power Iron Mountain’s Underground Data Centers

Iron Mountain, the company best known for its document storage and data center facilities in underground caverns, has become the fifth major US data center provider to make a big direct investment in renewable energy to power its operations. The company has agreed to buy 10 percent of energy that will be generated by the enormous Amazon wind farm that’s currently under construction in Texas.

As the deal illustrates, big energy users, such as data center operators, can benefit from both energy cost savings that are now possible when making utility-scale power purchase agreements and from helping their customers meet their corporate sustainability goals. Iron Mountain said it expects the deal to help it save $1.5 million in costs and that its renewable energy efforts to date are helping it open new doors with customers.

“We’ve discovered that it’s also helping us to open meaningful dialogue and collaboration opportunity with our customers who are seeking to understand and mitigate their own environmental impact,” Ty Ondatje, senior VP of corporate responsibility and chief diversity officer at Iron Mountain, said in a statement.

Representatives from multiple major data center providers have said that big collocation customers are increasingly interested in data center services powered by renewable energy. A recent survey of collocation customers by Data Center Knowledge confirmed that renewable energy is playing a growing role in companies’ decision making when it comes to selecting data center providers.

Source: Iron Mountain

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Tesla and Panasonic are working on a new solar project

Tesla is teaming up with Panasonic to build solar cells and modules at a SolarCity factory in New York.

The electric automaker, which is already working with Panasonic to produce car batteries, wants to start production of photovoltaic components at the SolarCity factory in Buffalo as soon as next year.

Tesla announced the new partnership in a blog post late Sunday. Panasonic confirmed it signed a basic non-binding agreement with Tesla, but did not comment further.


The plan hinges on Tesla finalizing its purchase of the solar panel seller SolarCity in November.

The two companies have been heading towards a merger since Tesla announced its plans to buy SolarCity in August. Shareholders in the two companies will vote on the acquisition next month.

Some analysts are not happy with the deal, pointing to the speed at which SolarCity has been burning through its cash reserves in recent months.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk owns more than 20% of SolarCity and is the company's chairman. Musk's cousin Lyndon Rive is the chief executive of SolarCity.

Tesla plans to use the cells and modules produced in Buffalo with its energy storage products Powerwall and Powerpack.

"By working together on solar, we will be able to accelerate production of high-efficiency, extremely reliable solar cells and modules at the best cost," said J.B. Straubel, Tesla's chief technical officer and co-founder.

A combined Tesla and SolarCity event scheduled for Friday, Oct. 28, could shed more light on Musk's plans.

Source: CNNMoney

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GBCI Announces New Technology Organization: arc

Today, during the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) International Summit held at the 2016 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) announced a new technology organization called arc.

Officially launching later in 2016, arc will further the performance of the green building industry and the built environment as a whole.

Scot Horst, USGBC's chief product officer, has been named arc's incoming CEO. He will transition from his role with USGBC and LEED at the end of 2016.

"As the leaders of the green building movement over the last two decades, USGBC and GBCI have gathered more green building data and its related business intelligence than any other organization in the world," said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. "Through this data we have begun to measure, monitor and score building performance in real time. We developed arc as a way to provide new and more transparent ways to share this information."

"Scot's leadership of this new venture is a testament to his expertise and vision. He's led LEED's continued evolution through LEED 2009 and v4, its globalization and its shift from a design tool to a performance metric. We welcome him to his new role," continued Fedrizzi.

Arc is a state of the art platform that will allow any building to participate and immediately start measuring performance, make improvements and benchmark against itself. The goal of arc is to support the missions of USGBC and GBCI.

LEED certified buildings can use arc to improve and benchmark against other certified buildings around them. Buildings that have not certified yet will be able to use arc to make incremental sustainability improvements and eventually achieve LEED certification.

The arc platform is a complement to LEED and other green building rating systems, standards, protocols and guidelines and allows buildings and spaces to connect to the built environment in a new way by comparing performance metrics and connecting them to green building strategies. Arc eliminates complexities and barriers to behavioral change.

Arc was developed by GBCI, which is the only certification and credentialing body within the green business and sustainability industry to exclusively administer project certifications and professional credentials and certificates for various rating systems. Arc is an open platform built to integrate the current and future standards, guidelines, protocols and systems that enable a higher quality of life.

Source: http://www.investorideas.com/news

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