How green buildings and sustainable practices help businesses & the environment

We’re surrounded by messaging to turn our everyday practices “green” like changing to a reusable coffee cup, or better lightbulbs, but these are small changes in a big picture. There are much more impactful and sustainable changes that can be made to buildings and facilities to make them “greener” with sustainable practices, the facilities version of cutting down your carbon footprint. 

Green buildings 

It was found in 2010 that buildings accounted for 32% of total global energy use, and while this has undoubtedly declined over the pandemic, we can buy as many reusable cups as we want – this needs to change. 

Luckily, the advent of green buildings and green initiatives in real estate has given us a way to optimize buildings emissions, carbon footprint and overall facilities to be more eco-friendly and sustainable long term, rather than merely acting as a band-aid for poor practices. 

The sustainability of these buildings however is not based on one or two systems, but rather how they work together as a whole over the long term. Moving to green practices and eventually creating cities that are made up entirely of green buildings will make a significant difference in carbon emissions for our species. 

Benefits of green buildings  

Green buildings designs lend themselves to the improvement of outputs and overall handling of emissions and energy, but also to creating a healthy within them for their occupants.  

Outfitted with smart technology, green buildings track energy use and demand while using data to find areas that require attention or could benefit from an upgrade or optimization. Specific attention to things like lighting, heating & air conditioning can drastically impact a built environments “green status”. Lowering emissions and improving energy efficiency can make a lasting difference if it is repeated over several built environments. 

 On top of this, using an IWMS like Archibus to monitor and optimize internal facilities contributes to healthy occupants. We know how much of a difference clean air and ventilation, along with lighting and heat can make in a stuffy office space.  

Green technology  

Thankfully, emerging technology in the areas of automation is making green buildings easier to maintain and evolve over time so that our now green tech does not fall out of favor.  

Green technology also extends outside of buildings – the implementation of automation in industries such as transportation or agriculture (two of the largest contributors to emissions) where congestion or energy consumption can be optimized and adjusted to be more eco-friendly.  

As for green buildings, automation and the internet of things (IoT) are the primary drivers of turning built environments green and sustainable for the future and their occupants. A network of sensors, monitors, and systems feed data into an application or software such as Archibus which in turn presents a comprehensive look at the portfolio and how facilities are functioning.  

Using this technology allows for real-time quantitative looks at how a building is functioning which can highlight areas of concern or which systems are not performing at a “green” level, aiding in the transformation into a green office. 

Green office space  

Green office space should be a goal for every organization, as we are seeing more and more large companies such as Amazon are making moves towards green buildings and environmentally sustainable practices in business and in their investments.  

Green office space encapsules several things and is usually designed to improve their carbon footprint and emissions as well as create a greener, healthy space internally for occupants.  

 Striking a balance between green both inside and outside can be tricky however, as sometimes the most optimal outputs for emissions don’t create the best internal environment whether it be due to heating, lighting or other factors. 

A Harvard study released covering the foundations of a healthy building mentioning that air quality/ventilation can improve cognitive function along with physical health. Combined with lighting and natural views of landscapes or the inclusion of green walls or plants, which have been shown to have positive psychological effects on occupants.  

The design of an office space that promotes health and wellbeing will produce a healthy and productive staff, only benefiting the organization in the long run. 

Environmental Sustainability 

With green measures and initiatives being taken by more and more businesses, the importance of sustainability is at the forefront of all decisions, as without sustainable practices it becomes a band-aid fix and we end up back at square one in a decade or so.  

Finding sustainability and maintaining it are the main hurdles here as maintaining it with an IWMS or supporting application can be helpful as their automated systems can control things like lighting or smart windows to control energy use.  

Efforts like recycling wastewater in buildings can have a profound impact long-term on water consumption and energy used to pump in new water. Sustainability can also look like effective facilities management in order to guarantee functionality and lower costs of repair or replacement.  

Monitoring Emissions  

Of course, you can’t reduce emissions through guesswork and a few lucky tweaks to the systems, optimizing emissions and energy use for environmental sustainability means consistent monitoring using technology and maintaining said tech to perform over time.  

Investment in this technology is the first step to monitoring emissions, once technology has been deployed then facilities managers or a designated equivalent must be tasked with tracking of emissions and related outputs and see to it that they are within the organizations target ranges.  

Collection of data is not enough, knowing how to use it is the next step, spotting inconsistencies or areas of concern and knowing how to deal with them and improve can make sure a company gets to their target emissions and stays there.  

The Future of Environmental Technology 

The market for environmental technology is expected to expand significantly in the coming years, and the future is bright as increased investments are yielding means to further efforts in electric cars, clean water, and clean energy.  

The invention of smart windows could help to revolutionize heating and cooling as they can impact a rooms heat and take the burden off HVAC systems.  

As more buildings are turned green and more businesses cast aside budgets and prioritize their environmental sustainability, green technology will continue to advance as we create fully green cities that are sustainable and largely running on automated networks.  

As AI and IoT become increasingly popular, we could see entire sectors being run on automated systems tracking emissions and ensuring the ideal levels of lighting, HVAC, and energy use.  

Takeaway 

Your business is likely taking, or considering taking action to become more environmentally friendly and improve their overall carbon footprint. As technology advances and sustainability becomes paramount, be careful to check all the boxes and can not only become environmentally friendly but stay there as well. 

Using an IWMS, IoT or automated software to aide in environmental action can be a good way to get started on turning your office green with sustainability. 

– Horizant – how we can help 

 Horizant’s experience with facilities solutions and IWMS means that our experts can help guide you to the best customized experience for your business and ensure you’re getting the most out of your software while being prepared to use it to the fullest.  

Any questions? Visit our website for more information or to talk to our team.