Tips for Reducing Environmental Impact
Organizations regionally, nationally, and globally are reducing their environmental impact by decreasing waste; switching to renewable energy sources; and becoming more eco-responsible in their respective industries. Companies in the food and beverage and travel and tourism industries, for example, are pledging to ditch plastic straws or switch to 100% bio-degradable materials for serveware and drink ware. Grocers across the country are making the commitment to phase out plastic bags and asking customers to bring reusable totes and bags for their groceries. Some organizations have completely moved to 100% renewable energy to power their facilities.
Ways to Reduce Environmental Impact in Construction
The construction and building industry is no different, making strategic and thoughtful changes to building practices to help reduce the impact new construction and renovation has on the environment. Organizations such as the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) have committed to helping transform how buildings are designed and constructed by benchmarking energy usage and developing the green building rating system LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), creating incentives for organizations to build eco-friendly structures. Reynolds, a leader in sustainable commercial building practices and a certified energy services company, works with owners in industries such as K-12, commercial and industrial, higher education, and healthcare, to create eco-friendly spaces that are energy efficient and socially responsible.
While reducing environmental impact for an organization may seem overwhelming and challenging, small changes in business practices and operations can be a tangible place to start and create a measurable impact. The team of energy and design professionals at Reynolds offers the following five ways to reduce a commercial building’s impact on the environment, while also potentially reducing operating costs and increasing occupant comfort.
- Install Low-Flow Faucet Aerators – According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately nine percent of the total commercial and institutional water consumption in the U.S. can be attributed to office buildings. Most of the water usage in an office is attributed to domestic/restrooms (37%). Low-flow faucet aerators reduce the flow of water from a faucet and have the potential to reduce water consumption up to 50% per day.
- Transition to Renewables – A complete building or company-wide switch to renewables such as wind or solar may not be achievable for some organizations because of capital or financial resources. In these cases, a phased transition may be a better approach. As mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems age and are scheduled to be replaced or upgraded on a facility master plan, organizations should consider switching to renewable energy. As an incentive, there are several federal tax credits available for switching to power sources such as solar, wind and geothermal energy to help organizations finance the installation of renewable energy systems.
- Buy Local – A large component of environmental pollution is due to gas and carbon emissions from the transportation of goods and materials. Organizations that switch to local suppliers for office and commercial needs can reduce the amount of air pollution caused by delivery logistics.
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Many organizations are in the habit of recycling which helps reduce environmental impact, however there are other small changes employees can make that will help the environment. Every item that is used in an office setting has to be transported, used, and then, in most cases, discarded. Look for small ways to lengthen the lifespan of office materials to help reduce your carbon footprint. For example, staff can get into the habit of repurposing extra photocopies into scratch and note paper.
- Look for ENERGY STAR When Shopping
The ENERGY STAR Program through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a voluntary program that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect the climate through superior energy efficiency. ENERGY STAR products are certified through the program as energy efficient and designed to save energy while also reducing energy-related expenses for businesses. The program is also extended to buildings and plants and encompasses a benchmarking system to determine if a building is operating efficiently. Reynolds, an ENERGY-STAR certified company, can assist organizations who wish to pursue their own certification.
How Reynolds Can Help You Reduce Your Environmental Impact
Reynolds, experts in energy-efficient design, can help school districts and businesses in Pennsylvania assess their energy usage and offer recommendations to maximize building efficiency while reducing environmental impact. If you are ready to discuss ways to save on energy costs, or conduct an energy efficiency audit or study, contact us today. We can answer questions and share more about the results we can help you achieve.