Green Business Initiatives

Last year, CO2 in the atmosphere reached record levels at 417 parts per million – levels not experienced by the atmosphere in several million years. These CO2 emissions are one of several factors responsible for climate change, producing an ongoing warming trend that yielded the warmest temperatures on record over the last seven years.

Global warming is wreaking havoc on the planet in the form of rising sea levels, longer and more intense heat waves, drought, storms, melting glaciers, and warming of the oceans. The urgency and severity of the problem is driving the development of green business initiatives aimed at helping curb global warming.

Companies across industries and sectors are implementing green initiatives and practices to reduce the total greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) caused by their activities, either directly or indirectly or, in other words, to shrink their carbon footprint. Some of these initiatives include:

Practicing the 3 Rs

Companies are finding ways to reduce, reuse and recycle throughout their operations and their supply chains to divert waste from landfills.

Making the switch to renewable energy

Burning fossil fuels to produce energy is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). To cut down on these emissions, companies are making the switch to renewable energy sources—such as solar and wind.

Maximizing energy efficiency

Commercial buildings consume 13.6 quads of electricity (35% of electricity consumed in the U.S) and generate 826 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The use of programmable thermostats and LED lighting and powering down computers and other equipment not in use are just a few of the energy efficiency strategies companies are implementing.

Choosing sustainable suppliers

Companies are vetting their suppliers to ensure they are working with a partner with good environmental practices.

While many companies are adopting these and other green business initiatives, the architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) sector is implementing industry specific green practices to cut down on the approximately 14 gigatons of all energy related GHG emissions it is responsible for each year – the equivalent of 140,000 fully-loaded U.S. aircraft carriers.

Some of the strategies the industry is using to reduce its carbon footprint include:

Designing for sustainability

Architects are increasingly taking a greener approach to building design to minimize the harmful effects of construction projects on the environment. To transform the built environment “from the major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions to a central solution to the climate crisis,” architects established Architecture 2030, a program targeting dramatic reduction in energy consumption and CO2 emissions of the built environment by 2030, and a complete phase-out of fossil fuel CO2 emissions by 2040. 

Today, architects are making their biggest impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions simply by choosing better, more sustainable building materials that reduce embodied carbon. A critical part of how they are doing this is by selecting alternatives to concrete, one of the largest global contributors to carbon dioxide emissions as a primary material of the exterior building envelope and structure. Architects are using a wide variety of eco-friendly alternatives to carbon-intensive concrete including cross-laminated timber, mass timber and insulated metal panels.

Meeting certification requirements for green buildings

The green building movement created certifications like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) to reduce the environmental impact of the built environment. The most widely used and recognized green building rating system in the world, LEED was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to provide a framework for healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings. Projects pursuing LEED certification earn points across several categories, including energy use, and materials and resources. A project can earn one of four LEED rating levels: Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum based on the number of points achieved.

Developing sustainable construction materials

Building material manufacturers also play a key role in green construction initiatives, bringing to market materials designed to minimize the harmful environmental impact of buildings. Insulated metal panel product manufacturer Kingspan is producing panels that are lower in embodied carbon than other traditional wall assemblies and provide high performing thermal efficiency that reduces energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Kingspan panels are also 7% recycled (by weight) pre-consumer, and 79% recycled post-consumer. The steel is always reused or recycled, and the foam can be repurposed both pre- and post-consumer.

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. As such, it is imperative for companies across all industries to adopt green initiatives that protect the environment, help combat global warming and boost global sustainability.

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Term of the Day

Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e) is a method to compare various greenhouse gases based on their global warming potential. One metric ton of a greenhouse gas is converted to the equivalent number of metric tons of CO2 emissions with the same global warming potential.

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