Monthly Archives: March 2014

Sustainable Buildings – The Challenges towards Widespread Acceptance

sustainable buildingsDeveloping a company into a paragon of sustainability is now more important than ever. Environmentally-friendly sustainable buildings are not only essential from a moral standpoint; they can also be a solid financial investment.

According to the U.S. government, the nation’s 100+ million households and more than 4.7 million commercial buildings “consume more energy than the transportation or industry sectors, accounting for nearly 40 percent of total U.S. energy use (source).” This makes improving to sustainable buildings an immediate issue that requires an immediate response. But the response has taken longer than it should.

This is mostly due to outdated modes of thought and fearful expectations of financial loss. Fortunately, these apprehensions can be remedied through a cursory look at the countless benefits involved in making a green transition.

The greenest buildings commonly increase ventilation control, enhance temperature and lighting control, and increase daylighting, all of which are vital in reducing an organization’s carbon footprint. Simply put, sustainable buildings consume less energy. This places much less demand on the power grid, leading directly to a reduction in fossil fuel usage, and eventually, lower energy costs.

Further benefits include:

  • A healthier work environment, improving employee comfort and productivity
  • A reduction in operations and maintenance costs
  • A more efficient use of key resources (energy, water, materials, land)
  • A sense of corporate leadership by employers and employees in the areas of environmental sensitivity and sustainability.

Making your building more sustainable is truly a win-win for companies who want to evolve their business and provide an environmental benefit. This will boost public perception, attract quality talent, and put the organization in an ideal financial and social position going forward. Environmentally-conscious customers will also reward sustainable efforts, and by doing so, increasing loyalty, reputation, and profits.

So how can a company leverage sustainable practices to increase business and reduce environmental impact?  Enter Class-G, an online sustainability self-certification platform, allowing organizations to measure and communicate their commitment to sustainability. Offering a “Green Company Certification” Class-G enables businesses to effectively promote their sustainable buildings, as well as encourage ongoing green practices.

By benchmarking their level of sustainable operations (Air & Health, Energy, Water, Materials, and Waste Reduction) in as little as 60 minutes, businesses can be rewarded with an eye-catching certification plaque and a third-party endorsement of sustainability. This is similar to the LEEDs certification, but without the need to partake in costly renovations, or pay for expensive third-party inspections.

The world is changing, and making an effort to stay on the forefront of sustainable practices is in an organization’s best interest, both socially and economically.

Ohio Senate Wants to Ban LEED Certification

LEED CertifiedRecently, the Ohio Senate passed a resolution against use of the LEED certifications. While not binding legislation, this resolution could have a big impact on how government and school buildings are constructed (source).

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an organization formed by a private group called the U.S. Green Building Council. They determine a set of environmental standards for building construction, and control a certification process.  Becoming “LEED Certified” has been the gold standard for environmental building certifications. While often criticized for being cost-prohibitive for most organizations, LEED has been a leader in green building certification.

Political pressure seems to have been spearheaded by some chemical trade groups, including the American Chemistry Council, who object to the latest LEED standard, LEED v4. Among other things, this requires organizations to disclose building materials.  Testimony for the bill included a suggestion that LEED v4 contains a list of “blacklisted” chemicals. LEED claims that no such blacklist exists.

Joe Blattner, CEO of Class-G, a company that provides a platform for virtually any company that manages in an environmentally-friendly fashion to certify as a sustainably-managed organization, says he was dumbfounded by the resolution. “LEED-certified buildings score high points for sustainability with us,” he said. “The notion of a politically-motivated ban on LEED just seems inconsistent with the public’s clear demand for greater environmental initiatives, and frankly, inconsistent with democracy.”

Excerpts of the resolution follow. The entire resolution can be found here.

RESOLVED, That we, the members of the 130th General Assembly of the State of Ohio, urge Ohio state agencies and other government entities to use green building rating systems, codes, or standards that are consistent with state energy efficiency and environmental performance objectives and policies; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the only systems, codes, and standards used in state agency and other government buildings be those that have been developed in an open and transparent way with the input of Ohio building materials and products manufacturers and harvesters to ensure that the use of green building rating systems, codes, and other standards from the private sector are consistent with Ohio objectives and policies; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the State of Ohio use private sector green building rating systems, codes, and other standards to implement state energy efficiency and environmental performance objectives provided that they are voluntary consensus standards that are properly grounded in science and include the use of environmental and health criteria that are based on risk assessment methodology generally accepted by applicable scientific disciplines; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the use of green building rating systems, codes, and other standards that have been developed pursuant to ANSI procedures be presumptively deemed to be open, transparent, and voluntary consensus standards suitable for Ohio government use; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the LEED v4 green building rating system no longer be used by Ohio’s state agencies and government entities until the USGBC conforms its system development to the ANSI voluntary consensus standard procedures as confirmed by ANSI or until the state, after an opportunity for public comment and participation, incorporates the LEED v4 system by reference, in whole or in part, into the administrative rules for state agency or government entity building standards; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the OFCC continue to incorporate energy efficiency and sustainable design features into approved school projects through the use of alternative green building rating systems, codes, and standards other than LEED v4….

Sustainability Certification: Economics and Environmental Issues Don’t Have to Clash

sustainability certification economicsMany times debates will stage environmentalism as uneconomical, but even low level sustainability certification can be an affordable approach to participation in helping the planet. A building does not have to get LEED certified in order to take credit and enjoy the benefits of going green. Every business can play a part in helping improve the environment and help its own financial situation at the same time by cutting costs on energy and waste. 

Sustainability Certification 

One of the biggest arguments against LEED certification, the highest sustainability certification available to businesses, is that it is cost prohibitive. Renovating buildings to be more environmentally safe can require extensive replacement of toxic materials with green materials. A more affordable option for smaller companies or businesses that cannot afford massive renovation is Class-G, which is an online sustainability self-certification platform. The goal of the platform is to provide sustainability tracking so that businesses are aware of which environmental improvements need to be made to a building.

Any business can qualify for this environmental improvement system that allows them to measure, track and enhance sustainability over time. Class-G is an affordable easy-to-use platform run by sustainability experts. The company provides transparency by allowing people to comment on each sustainability claim. Tracking is done for all locations on one dashboard, which can help a company determine which locations need better practices. The platform comes with tools that allow employees, customers and stakeholders to communicate. Class-G provides certifications through a simple online process. It allows a company to monitor measurement levels for air, health, energy, water, materials and waste reduction.

Green Benefits

There are many benefits to going green including reducing waste, creating better energy efficiency, removing harmful chemicals and making health conditions better. One of the biggest factors that every business should be concerned with is reputation. A growing sentiment across the entire world is that businesses need to be more environmentally responsible. Gaining sustainability certification, even at an entry level, helps a company’s reputation among clients and the rest of the business community. This credibility is important for corporations with multiple business locations.

Measurements are based on a simple checklist that takes under an hour to complete. The checklist offers three categories: Yes, No and Wish list, a feature that allows a business to prepare for future sustainability goals. The certification is issued as a plaque that can be posted for customers to view.