The Green Building Council SA (GBCSA) is celebrating World Environment Day on 5 June with inspiration and ideas on how to bring the outdoors inside, appreciate nature and protect the natural environment that we all share.
The theme for this year is Connecting with Nature and the GBCSA invites South Africans to take positive steps – both big and small – to bring nature into their cities, workplaces and homes.
For inspiration, consider what corporates like Alexander Forbes in Sandton and the Vodafone Site Solution Innovation Centre in Midrand, and hospitality businesses like Hotel Verde in Cape Town are doing to make greener spaces a reality, or the Ngewana family undertook in their own home.
Alexander Forbes’ office building at 115 West Street in Sandton, for example, has literally brought the outdoors indoors with their beautifully landscaped garden reception area, while 58% of the office area has natural daylight levels sufficient to allow the electric lights to be turned off during daylight hours.
The developers of the Vodafone Site Solution Innovation Centre showed considerable sensitivity to nature: care was taken to integrate the building into the landscape and landscapers went to great lengths to protect and relocate indigenous trees that were on site before construction.
Hotel Verde is living up to its claim of being the greenest hotel in Africa. With a whole host of nature-loving innovations, you can literally immerse yourself in nature just steps from Cape Town International Airport. The hotel boasts an indigenous roof garden that also acts as a thermal barrier, an organic food garden and vertical aquaponics set-up that provide all the fresh produce required by the kitchen, and a chemical-free eco pool for guests to cool down in. The developer also rehabilitated the wetlands adjacent to the hotel to the extent that it is now a green lung in the Airport Industria precinct and is host to over 100 species of indigenous and endemic vegetation, an ecotrail, outdoor gym and two beehives housing over 60 000 Cape Honey Bees.
Interestingly, all Green Star SA new buildings tools have a credit specifically designed to protect nature – the Eco-Conditional Requirement – which aims to encourage and recognise development on land that has limited ecological value, and discourage development on or adjacent to ecologically sensitive sites. This credit recognises that humans need to exist alongside, and with minimal impact to nature, so discourages damage to or infringement of vegetation of high ecological value, or indigenous natural vegetation that is in its untransformed state; threatened or protected species, including flora and fauna; and watercourses of high ecological value, which include those deemed significant under a local, provincial or national register and registered wetlands.
But GBCSA Chief Executive Officer Dorah Modise points out that it’s not only corporates and hotels that should be investing in greener spaces: everyone can make small changes towards greener buildings and healthier lifestyles, without a large outlay of capital or time.
“Think baby steps: bring more greenery inside, for instance, or make sure there is as much natural light as possible inside your building,” says Modise. “Plant as many plants as you have space for – whether that’s a pot plant on the window sill or indigenous gardens outside – or a herb or vegetable garden.”
A great example of this is how the Ngewana family transformed their backyard into a herb and vegetable garden, as part of the GBCSA MyGreenHome project. Read more about this and more at www.mygreenhome.org.za.
“Making a concerted effort to spend as much time as possible in nature is beneficial on so many levels – it’s good for physical and mental wellbeing and relationships, plus it helps to remind us to live in harmony with our fellow beings. Our natural systems are also responsible for keeping our planet in a healthy livable state, so for the sake of our children we must preserve nature, whilst at the same time enjoy spending time in nature.”
“A good way to start is to join us in celebrating World Environment Day on 5 June 2017. We will be helping create the world’s biggest nature photo album, and you can too by snapping selfies of yourselves connecting with nature and tagging @GBCSA and #WithNature and #WorldEnvironmentDay,” concludes Modise.
Growthpoint Properties’ pioneering eco-friendly electronic bike hub project in Sandton Central has proven a resounding success with over 1,000 bike share trips, so far.
This milestone was reached in a mere 24 weeks with Growthpoint’s starter fleet of only 20 bikes and two solar-powered stations.
Werner van Antwerpen, who heads up Growthpoint’s specialised sustainability division, reports the number of bikes used from the Growthpoint-owned The Place at 1 Sandton Drive, which is also Growthpoint’s headquarters, has grown pleasingly since the project began.
Trips from Growthpoint-owned 138 West Street, opposite the Sandton Gautrain Station – which began operating six weeks after the Sandton Drive hub – have increased exponentially.
He reveals that while Growthpoint staff are enthusiastic supporters of the project, the bikes provided by Greencycles are for everyone and a wide array of people are using them.
Sharing remarkable project statistics, van Antwerpen notes most trips take place on Friday, and the fewest are taken on Monday. “Trips increase in a linear manner over the working week.”
In addition, each e-bike is pro-actively tracked and not a single one has gone missing.
Weather impacts bike use and, while this may be obvious, what’s more revealing is that demand for bikes increases during major events in Sandton Central. This was clear, for example, during the Green Building Council South Africa’s annual convention and the Nelson Mandela Day food packing drive.
“This initiative has proven itself and that there is a demand within Sandton Central for other ways of getting around,” says van Antwerpen. “People who work in Sandton have shown they see an electric bike share as a great option, especially those who use public transport to get to Sandton.”
One of the advantages of e-bicycles in Sandton’s hilly topography is that you don’t have to be super fit, in fact, they’re a cruise. They’re fitted with an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery that can be charged like a cellphone. E-bikers can arrive at the office looking cool and feeling cool too.
Intended for short trips around the Sandton Central neighbourhood, a bike can be booked for several hours before it needs to be returned to the docking station. Van Antwerpen reports that, so far, peak hours for bike trips are from 7am to 9am, from midday to 1pm, and from 3pm to 4pm.
“We are confident that, as the project grows and stations remain open for longer, its use will increase and spread into the extended hours. There’s already a big demand,” reveals van Antwerpen.
What’s more, Growthpoint’s bike share pilot project has, so far, created sustainable full-time jobs for two young people passionate about the biking industry who are the station masters for each hub.
And, with the exciting figures proving its popularity, it is little wonder that other corporates in Sandton Central have started queuing up to join the e-bike share initiative.
“We believe in this project and are excited to see other companies in Sandton Central’s business community that share our vision of greener and cleaner places to live and work also getting involved,” says van Antwerpen. To help it reach critical mass, Growthpoint has committed to support the project for at least another year. So have GreenCycles.
As the largest South African primary listed Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) this initiative takes Growthpoint’s environmental innovation beyond its properties and into the streets, connecting people and places, and creating a valuable, much-needed resource for all Sandton Central’s businesses, residents and visitors.
Estienne de Klerk, Managing Director of Growthpoint Properties, says: “We felt this was the right way to create a greater cycling culture and scheme in Sandton, improve traffic congestion, reduce harmful emissions and simply make it easier to move around South Africa’s financial district.”
This aligns with Growthpoint’s vision to be a leading international property company providing space to thrive and creating value for all its stakeholders with innovative and sustainable property solutions.
Growthpoint is a Platinum Founding Member of GBCSA, a member of the GBCSA’s Green Building Leader Network, and has been included in the FTSE/JSE Responsible Investment Index for seven years running. It owns and manages a diversified portfolio of 530 property assets including 467 properties in South Africa, 63 properties in Australia through its investment in Growthpoint Properties Australia (GOZ) and a 50% interest in the properties at V&A Waterfront, Cape Town.
“As a responsible property owner, manager and developer, Growthpoint is acutely aware that, as our suburbs and cities expand, traffic congestion will intensify. E-bikes contribute to lower CO2 emissions, cleaner air, and less traffic congestion. They’re also convenient, free and fun,” says de Klerk.
Pre-book Growthpoint GreenCycles at www.greencycles.co.za. It is also where you’ll find more info on how to get involved, sponsorship opportunities, and installing your own corporate e-bike station.
Growthpoint Properties Limited
Estienne de Klerk, Managing Director of Growthpoint Properties
011 944 6284
Werner van Antwerpen, Head of Sustainability Growthpoint Properties
011 944 6598
After South Africa’s rapid adoption of green building in the commercial sector, the focus shifts to the housing market.
It has been ten years since South Africa’s rapid adoption of the green building movement – with eco-friendly buildings now being recognised as the standard for quality real estate.
Although terms like “environmentally-sustainable buildings”, “rain harvesting” and “off-the-grid innovations” have been bandied about for years in greenie or hipster circles, they have gained more credibility since green building initially took off in 2007 in South Africa.
Supporting this view is the number of certified buildings by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), which has risen to 200 buildings from one certified building in 2009.
Going green has largely been in the office property market. However, the next phase of sustainable building is expanding into the affordable housing market.
The certification of eco-friendly residential homes has been in the making since 2014 through the GBCSA’s rating tool called the Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (or EDGE) for new houses being designed and built.
Since piloting the EDGE tool two years ago, the GBCSA is in the process of registering and certifying 5 300 residential homes. It is also targeting for 8 000 homes to be certified by the end of the year.
Speaking at the International Housing Solutions Affordable Housing Conference on Thursday, the EDGE managing executive at GBCSA Graham Cruickshanks said it’s targeting 52 000 green certified homes in the next seven years.
“We are hoping for green certification and green homes to be a norm in South Africa and to be business as usual for developers,” said Cruickshanks.
He said by 2020 the demand for electricity will rise by 46% globally, making the case for going the environmentally sustainable route strong.
The focus for greening homes is mostly for large residential developments –with the roll out free-standing homes, for certification, and less so apartment buildings and single home owner builders. To achieve an EDGE rating, housing units must demonstrate a 20% minimum energy, water and embodied energy savings.
The adoption of sustainable building in the commercial property sector in South Africa has been widely lauded by the international community. A recently published World Green Building Trends 2016 report, compiled by construction group Dodge Data & Analytics, indicates that South Africa has emerged as a leader in green building based on the level of commitments of green projects.
After South Africa’s rapid adoption of green building in the commercial sector, focus shifts to the housing market.
The country has the highest green building share, trumping countries such as the UK and the US, China, Singapore, Germany, and the historical green building market leader Australia.
The World Green Building Trends report expects more growth in residential projects in the green building market.
Private residential developers are already getting in green building act. Private equity firm International Housing Solutions (IHS) is forging ahead with its affordable housing development Ravenswood in Kempton Park, Gauteng – which is the first residential project in South Africa to achieve an EDGE design certification by the GBCSA.
The development, which will boast 188 two-bedroom green homes, has demonstrated a projected total savings of 250 000 kilowatt-hours of electricity and more than 10 000 kilolitres of water annually, in its design. This translates into a saving of almost R600 000 a year or R3 200 in utility costs for each unit by applying EDGE-certified energy efficiency measures.
IHS owns over 8 000 units in the affordable housing market and has a mandate of investing in housing developments that are valued from R400 000 to R700 000.
IHS’ managing director Rob Wesselo said in all its affordable housing projects, the mandate is to make them 20% more efficient from an electricity, water and materials point of view. He stresses going green doesn’t have to be expensive, as simple measures such as using windows that allow for natural light, installing shower heads that conserve water and using clay instead of cement bricks can cut development costs.
Green features at Ravenswood will include the use of solar hot water collectors, efficient water usage through the installation of smart meters, roof insulation to ensure optimal energy efficiency, and more.
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South Africa’s 3,000-kilometer coastline could support a whole fleet of eco-friendly desalination plants that will solve the country’s water shortages and produce a new industry, says Kgalema Motlanthe.
The former South African deputy president, Motlanthe served as president for eight months following Thabo Mbeki’s resignation. He spoke at round table event on black industrialists in the green economy, encouraging exploration of desalination technology, MiningWeekly reports.
South Africa in 2015 recorded its lowest annual rainfall since record keeping began in 1904. A drought, attributed to El Nino, put millions at risk of food shortage, according to Reuters.
The country is over-dependent on surface water, said Nomvula Paula Mokonyane, South Africa’s Minister of Water Affairs.
Globally, capacity is growing for seawater reverse osmosis desalination at an annual rate of 13.6 percent and this is expected to continue the next five years, according to Research and Markets. New technology is helping the industry grow by leveraging renewable energy and innovative membrane upgrades such as ceramic and polymeric membranes.
But desalination technology hasn’t caught up to demand. Desalination is extremely expensive and prone to contamination, Frost & Sullivan reported in October, 2015.
More than 17,000 desalination plants operate in 150 countries worldwide, a capacity that is expected to double by 2020, according to Frost & Sullivan’s Analysis of Global Desalination Market. The market earned $11.66 billion in 2015 and it’s expected to reach $19.08 billion in 2019.
“Environmentally-conscious countries in Europe and the Americas are hesitant to practice desalination owing to its harsh effects on sea water,” said Vandhana Ravi, a Frost & Sullivan consultant. “Eco-friendly desalination systems that do not use chemicals will be well-received among municipalities.”
While several desalination projects are under construction in the U.S., India, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Mexico, adoption is slow in other drought-stricken parts of the world. Lack of regulatory support limits uptake.
Thermal desalination technology uses large amounts of energy and releases highly salty liquid brine back into the sea or other bodies of water, impacting the environment negatively. Brine disposal remains a prime challenge until the technology is upgraded, according to Frost & Sullivan.
The goal is to reduce operating costs.
Sub-Saharan Africa is largely dependent on rainfall, which has been erratic, and new partnerships are being forged from necessity.
In May, South Africa announced a partnership with Iran to develop desalination plants along all coastal communities to boost water supplies. President Jacob Zuma visited Iran in April.
Mossel Bay in the Western Cape is the site of South Africa’s largest desalination plant, converting salty seawater to drinkable water and helping supply water to state oil company PetroSA’s gas-to-fuel refinery.
South Africa is the main user of desalination technology in sub-Saharan Africa. Ghana and Namibia also have operational plants. Algeria is using desalination on a large scale.
In April 2015, West Africa’s first desalination plant opened in Ghana. Accra Sea Water Desalination plant has capacity to supply 60,000 cubic meters a day of fresh water, enough for 500,000 residents in the Accra vicinity, WaterWorld reported.
In late 2015, Algeria’s Skikda desalination plant reached a milestone with a 200 million cubic meters of drinking water produced since starting operations in 2009, according to WaterWorld.
Desalinated water is used as drinking water for the city of Skikda, and feeds the local petrochemical complex. The Spanish company Abengoa Water runs the facility, along with two more desalination plants in Algeria at Honaine and Ténès.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans a trip in July to four East African countries — Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia.
Rwanda looks to Israel as a model of how to build a modern country out of the devastation of genocide, Rwanda’s Ambassador Joseph Rutabana told The Jerusalem Post.
Rwanda is on Netanyahu’s list because it is arguably Israel’s closest friend on the continent. Rwanda wants to benefit from Israeli water management expertise, according to an Israeli diplomatic source.
“Israel has no water resources, but has developed other technologies toward recycling and water desalination that has made it self reliant,” Rutabana said. “In Rwanda we have lots of rain, but are still suffering from shortages.”
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If you associate concrete with bulky and unsustainable architecture take a look at this beautiful and innovative airport terminal in Accra, Ghana. Italian architect Mario Cucinella, in collaboration with Deweger Gruter Brown & Partners, has designed a new building in Accra, Ghana that uses concrete in a surprisingly light and eco-friendly way. The clever brise soleil passive design strategy allows the building to be bright and open to natural light while keeping out the sweltering noon/afternoon sun in the summertime, cooling the building when it needs cooling the most. The design has already received the 4-Stars award by Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), which makes Cucinella’s One Airport Square the first green commercial complex in Ghana.
One Airport Square is a striking building featuring a very unique structure on its façade: a criss-crossing brise soleil made out of concrete. Its powerful aesthetic was inspired by the motifs of the traditional African fabrics and peculiar patterns of palm tree bark. While the design embraces local traditions, it also meets the needs of environmental sustainability.
The building’s shell is a combination of overhanging slabs and diagonal frames that shelter the interior against direct sun rays. Thanks to this design, One Airport Square features an unexpected envelope entirely made of glass and, therefore, 17,000 m² of bright interiors that are also protected from the intense sun. Who would have ever imagined a comfortable, completely glazed 9-story building in the heart of Africa?
Besides acting as a giant brise soleil, One Airport Square’s irregular grid is also a load-bearing element of the building.Interestingly, Cucinella did not simply deliver an eye-catching and sustainable landmark. The development of the Kotoka International Airport area in Accra is also a great public space. From the urban point of view, One Airport Square project is a congregation piazza that’s active day and night and capable of hosting various events and activities. The commercial gallery of the ground floor contains shops, restaurants and cafes, allowing One Airport Square to make a significant contribution to the surrounding community, landscape and providing an example in terms of ethics, cultural sensitivity and environmental sustainability.
Botswana is one of the most sparsely populated nations in the world, a country the size of France but with just over 2 million people.
Luxury with a reduced footprint
Review from Vania Reyneke, Alive2Green
I was extended an invitation to spend a weekend at Hotel Verde, known as the greenest hotel in Africa for quite some time, but who wants to spend a weekend at or close to Cape Town International Airport if you are not flying, right?
Last weekend an opportunity came about where I could eventually take them up on the invite, packed my case, and grabbed a friend to join me.
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As we got out of the taxi at the door, we felt the tranquillity and peace and commented on how quiet it was, especially considering we were a stone’s throw away from the airport.
Check-in went smoothly and we took the lift up to the first floor. Instead of staring at one’s own reflection in a mirror, you are met by Verino, the hotel’s environmentally friendly rhino and mascot who makes one aware of one’s contribution to all green initiatives starting with the lift which uses regenerative braking on its “light” travel cycles saving 30% of the energy it would normally use.
The rooms are spacious with one’s shower, a wet room forming part of the bedroom. Without continuously being monitored or worrying about being a responsible tourist, it is all done automatically, however one is reminded just how responsible one is being as a traveller. All lights are energy efficient LEDs. Taps and sanitary fittings are “low flow” and aerated to minimise water usage. The dual flush toilet is supplied with biologically recycled grey water from showers and baths. All bedrooms are kept at a comfortable, energy efficient temperature. Our room was at such a comfortable temperature there was no need for us to use the airconditioner. Actually, now that I think of it, I was comfortable throughout the hotel at all times. The advanced system achieves extraordinary efficiency using a geothermal loop field coupled to ground source heat pumps for central heating/cooling and domestic water heating.
Because we used our towels more than once, we were awarded with a Verdino, an in-house coin to a certain value that one can credit towards one’s account, buy a snack or beverage from the deli, save and collect to use next time or cash in against your invoice.
Throughout the weekend, I was continuously amazed at the peace and quiet. Windows are double glazed and sound proof. Where one looks out, from all angles the yellow daisies were in full bloom, planted on all levels around the hotel. I have always found daisies to be uplifting and positive.
I am the worst critic for any hotel, as I am myself an international trained hotelier and find that most South African Hotels fall short on the breakfast buffet.
When my eyes fell on the platter of salmon roses and lemon, I knew I would not fault this hotel and I could not. What a pleasure to have your butter served in a dish at a temperature that makes it easy to spread and not struggle with little plastic tubs and lids one can never get to peal off easily. Preserves and jams were served in glass jars and I smiled when I lifted the glass sugar pourers that took me back to the days of jorr. Again, no paper to tear, the sugar poured out in perfect measurement, just as one would remember from the ‘50’s diners.
There was bergamot water which assists one with a hangover, double apple juice, orange juice and real juice I’ll add. Fruit displays, yogurts, cold meats, cheese platters and on the hot side, egg cooked to your choice, lamb and pork sausages, lightly spiced tomatoes, mushrooms, beans and more.. a lot more.. a cheese platter with every cheese you could imagine and nuts and seeds to your choice.
Not only was the food excellent, the décor, the tranquility and friendly staff make the hotel homely and comfortable, also giving it a homely feel. All facilities are easy to access, the business centre, bar and lounge all open plan.
There is a music corner in the lounge with a piano and other musical instruments for the use of anyone who may want to play a tune.
The eco pool is right next to the wetlands area where at night the frogs do a song and dance. Walking along the eco-trail you can’t help but get the feeling that here, nature is in balance, making a happy medium between eco friendly and stress of travelling.
By Sunday only did I start relaxing and decided to extend my stay by one more day. I just had to go to sleep to the sound of the frogs and wake up to the merry chirping of the birds one more day.
Hotel Verde, congratulations! If you can do it, so can the rest of the world!
Thank you for a wonderful experience and 100% for taking the extra mile on going green!
I can honestly recommend a stay at Hotel Verde for any occasion or event or even just a one night sleep-over
More companies are shifting priorities by using business intelligence to not only save on costs but to also become environmentally aware. Business intelligence’s ability to keep track of performance, as well as alert decision makers on behavioural changes, make it a complementary approach as demonstrated by the desire by many companies to become more eco-friendly. Even then, there is need for a clear roadmap that will tie in business intelligence with green initiatives.
Why Going Green is Important
The continued depletion of natural resources has led corporations that have large energy requirements to become more environmentally aware than ever. This is because not only do green initiatives save on costs, reuse resources and meet compliance requirements, but they also help to create brand recognition among customers.
Companies that are seen as being environmentally sensitive tend to create a vision of care. This provides the benefit of perceptions and practicality with the broader effects going beyond the organisation. However, the ability to save money by lowering the use of energy and power is more important. Besides lowering the consumption of energy, the technology adoption organisations also invest in R&D efforts and support social action initiatives that are geared towards environmentally friendly products as well as internal processes. This has broader effects on the environment at large.
List of Companies that Have Great Environmental Initiatives
1. Ford Motor Company
Automotive companies are known to be among the heaviest polluters. However, Ford Motor Company is changing this narrative through their ten-part environmental policy that they have implemented for years. The company uses sustainable fabrics in its vehicles while 80% of both its Focus and Escape vehicles are recyclable. The company also focuses on fuel efficiency, particularly on the six-speed transmission, offering a clean diesel heavy duty pickup truck. Furthermore, the paint fumes in the company’s plant in Michigan are recycled as fuel.
Ford’s factories also use Geothermal cooling systems while the Crown Victoria Interceptor that is distributed to the police has a fuel capacity that is flexible, making it able to run on either ethanol or gas. Additionally, Ford owns the world’s largest green roof and is the only company to have won the EPA Energy Star Award twice in a row.
Disney is determined to please companies that have made it a giant by using zero net direct greenhouse gas emission policies within all its facilities. In addition, it is working at reducing the indirect greenhouse gas emissions through the reduction of electrical consumption. Disney also has a zero waste policy meaning that there is nothing that would end up in landfills. The entertainment giant also uses technology that saves water and is working on lowering the footprint of its product manufacturing and distribution. This is tied up to the company’s policy of having a net positive environmental impact that has made Disney a leader in environmental responsibility.
3. Fisher Investments
The company has initiated the Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative that is aimed at contributing towards the preservation of California’s native Redwoods through cutting down on emissions and gasses that threaten their existence. More specifically, the company employs a plethora of ways in helping the environment through materials, as well as adjustable thermostats. Ultimately, the company’s commitment to reducing their footprint is unwavering.
Hewlett-Packard is one of the first companies to have reported its greenhouse gas emissions, after which they have initiated plans that are aimed at reducing emissions and cutting back on toxic substances used in manufacturing its products like cartridges. The company also has an aggressive recycling program that ensures most of the manufacturing waste does not end up in landfills. Furthermore, it has taken the lead in spreading word on the importance of environmental responsibility in its ads that promote green initiatives.
5. Johnson and Johnson
For more than 20 years now, this company has taken the lead in manufacturing personal care products that are environmentally responsible. It also has initiatives that reduce waste in the course of manufacturing and distribution through use of sustainable products and packaging methods where possible. The company also owns a fleet of hybrid vehicles that it also operates.
Nike is keen to highlight the value of green initiatives through its advertising in addition to putting the great ideas into practice. Its line of sustainable products is made using environmentally preferred materials like recycled polyester. The company also uses renewable energy sources in manufacturing. Moreover, Nike has pressed 650 of its suppliers in 52 countries to develop and implement written environmental policies.
7. eBay Eco-Initiatives
This company has its focus on environmental sustainability. This company has made it possible for people to exchange or reuse goods instead of throwing them away; thus not only increasing the lifespan of these products but also keeping them off landfills. The company also has a classified section where users are able to sell or buy used furniture, household appliances as well as other items that are hard to ship within the local community. The company has also partnered with United Stated Postal Service (USPS) to ensure green supply when it comes to shipping. Together, these two entities are co branded in environmentally friendly Priority Mail packaging that has earned them Cradle-to-Cradle certification.
8. Starbucks Stores Go Green
This company embraces principles of environmental sustainability across the board. The company not only purchases Fair Trade Certified and Certified organic coffee but also focuses on achieving LED certifications for its new outlets. By creating ‘green’ stores, the company is able to reduce operating costs as well as minimize the impact of business practices on the environment. In addition, the company has a green building strategy that includes adjusting temperatures for its air-conditioned stores from the standard that is 72o to 75o F and purchasing cabinetry that is made using 90% post industrial materials while incorporating low-flow water valves.
9. Google Environmental Innovations
This business innovator is another leader in embracing a greener future with its green supply chain management practices and environmental sustainability. The company demonstrates its commitment to going green through initiatives like powering its facilities with renewable energy sources, hosting farmers’ markets as well as sustainable cooking seminars and bringing goats to trim grass. Google also has in place an environmentally aware corporate culture, solidifying its reputation of being one of the world’s most forward thinking companies.
Overall, regardless of the initiatives that a company may embrace, businesses will do well to monitor these initiatives and identify ways of becoming more efficient over time.
Consumers care more than ever before about the environmental impact of the products they buy, and companies are incorporating green business trends in order to capitalize on this growing demand. As of 2014, “55% of consumers across 60 countries [were] willing to pay higher prices for goods from environmentally conscious companies… 71% of Americans at least consider the environment as a factor when shopping,” according to a green industry report.
In addition to the revenue-boosting effect from ‘going green’, businesses can also appreciate some significant savings from reduced energy costs by incorporating sustainability and energy efficiency into their products, practices and operations.
Innovative & Renewable Energy
Renewable sources of energy, such as wind, solar, and geothermal, have been impacting commercial industries for several years, creating more sustainable practices across the board. Renewable energy and innovative methods of sourcing energy is now more mainstream in business-to-consumer markets as well. As in residential scenarios, businesses can offset their usage and costs by implementing renewable methods like solar paneling. Businesses are also finding more unique ways to generate energy — one company is even turning food waste and sewage into usable energy!
Waste is the antithesis to green behavior, whether it happens with energy, products and supplies, or food. Feeding America® reports an estimated 70 billion pounds of food is thrown away each year in the United States alone. This food waste generates more greenhouse gases that carry a greater global warming potential than carbon dioxide. Many urban restaurants, grocery stores, and food producers are cutting back on waste by donating their leftover food to homeless shelters and food banks. Meanwhile, grocery retailers are increasingly redesigning their business models to reduce food waste, going so far as developing zero-waste stores and recipe-based food delivery services.
Energy Efficient Housewares
Green business trends toward energy efficiency are affecting the residential marketplace, particularly with home renovations and the choices homeowners make for a home remodel. Construction companies and providers of home services are offering eco-friendly options that homeowners prefer. Common examples of these popular eco-friendly products include new appliances with high Energy Star ratings, tankless water heaters, solar paneling, and insulated windows or window film. Many construction firms are also incorporating green business trends in their building and sourcing methods, such as using reclaimed or recycled materials for a variety of home renovation applications, instead of brand-new materials and fixtures.
Tech companies and corporate businesses can do a lot to reduce their carbon footprint, beyond simply adding a recycling bin and encouraging employees and customers to go paperless. Computers and other electronic devices use up a lot of energy, especially when they are left on after-hours and when moving screen-savers are running. Office-based businesses can easily implement a ‘greener’ approach with a policy of turning off the default screen-saver triggers, and asking employees to turn their computers and electronics off at the end of each day. For companies with the budget to replace older machines, energy-efficient electronics with high Energy Star ratings or EPEAT marks are available. Another popular employment benefit for technology and media industries in particular, is to allow or encourage telecommuting. This is also a green business trend, since commuting carries a significant carbon footprint for the employee, and employers spend more in energy and financial costs with larger office spaces.
Marketing and advertising is a cornerstone of virtually any business. Eco-friendly advertising trends and methods are becoming more popular. For example, some companies are choosing to advertise on new billboards that showcase the business while providing an ecological benefit, such as purifying the air or hosting an urban garden. Businesses are also reducing their use of paper products, while saving lots of money in printing costs by focusing more on digital marketing and online advertising avenues.
Moving forward, green business trends are expected to continue to develop with a focus on carbon recycling, green infrastructure, microgrids, the circular economy, and the B-to-B sharing economy, according to a 2016 report from GreenBiz. Progressively, these elements of eco-friendly business practices are becoming more of an opportunity for reducing risks and increasing revenue — opening the door for mainstream investors to finance sustainable business growth.
Wish you could have the warmth of a candle, and the brightness of an LED? Meet the Lumir C, a brilliant LED lamp that’s powered by the heat of a tiny tealight candle. Launched (and successfully funded) on Kickstarter, the Lumir C offers an eco-friendly alternative to lighting that’s not only beautiful, but also has off-grid applications and is more reliable than solar.
Lumir C creator Jehwan Park was inspired to create the candle-powered LED lamp after a trip he took to India in 2014. While there, he witnessed firsthand the “seriousness of blackouts” and was shocked to learn that as many as 1.3 billion people around the world still lack access to reliable electricity. Many households in developing countries still work by candlelight at night; however, the flames are often not bright enough to see properly. Thus, Park and his design team created a solution to light up an entire room with just one candle.
Park’s first product is the Lumir C, a lighthouse-shaped lamp that generates electric light from the heat of a candle flame. When placed on top of a candle, the lamp’s large heatsink draws the flame’s thermal energy and, thanks to the Seebeck effect, turns the temperature difference between the hot and cold air into thermoelectricity that powers the LED at the top of the lamp, which glows 15 to 60 times brighter than candlelight. For a special touch, the design team recommends using a scented candle.
The candle-powered Lumir C lamp is still available on Kickstarter, which has already surpassed its $50,000 funding goal, and can be purchased for the early-bird price of $59. The Lumir C team also created a low-cost option, the Lumir K, which uses the same technology as Lumir C but will not be sold for profit and was created to help developing countries such as the Philippines.