Green building practices are constantly evolving as more companies realize that sustainability is a key factor in competitiveness. Businesses that adopt the latest trends in eco-friendly facility features and corporate reporting could have a leading edge in their market, helping them to generate customer loyalty among green-conscious consumers and put pressure on competitors to match their efforts.
Using corporate reporting to demonstrate environmental concern
One way in which companies are highlighting their commitment to environmental friendliness is through corporate accounting. According to GreenBiz, companies like Puma and Kering have developed Environmental Profit and Loss statements, which assess corporate sustainability in financial terms. Standard accounting has typically ignored areas related to environmental concerns, but these new reports show how businesses are performing in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and energy management.
According to Puma, its EP&L statement also includes a transparency tool that will "enable us to make better, more informed business decisions that take account of environmental impacts as well as more traditional financial and operational considerations," GreenBiz noted.
Companies that have had green retrofits installed into their buildings could receive higher scores on these statements, allowing them to improve their public reputation.
Why American consumers might prefer eco-friendly corporations
The increased sustainability efforts among corporations mirrors the trend toward energy efficiency across the U.S. According to the 2014 edition of the "Sustainable Energy in America Factbook," eco-friendly installations have helped the U.S. to decrease its gas emissions by 10 percent since 2005. This means that the nation has surpassed the halfway mark in reaching the benchmark of a 17 percent reduction by 2020 set by President Obama. Additionally, the U.S. has become more self-sufficient in energy production, as net energy imports were cut by 15 percent in 2013, according to GreenBiz.
These statistics make it evident that Americans have become increasingly focused on the issue of sustainability. In order to build a strong relationship with the nation's environmentally-conscious population, businesses may need to make their eco-friendly habits visible to consumers. Once customers see that a company is dedicated to reducing its impact on the Earth, they may decide to buy that firm's products or services over those offered by less green competitors.
Corporate trends in demonstrating environmental friendliness
Businesses that have experienced success with their sustainability strategies have found ways to demonstrate their efforts and maximize the cost-effectiveness of their buildings' energy systems. Firms that work with the U.S Green Building Council to earn LEED certification can achieve both of these ends. The organization helps facilities directors to create goals for reducing their carbon emissions as well as their energy overheads. According to the USGBC, LEED-certified buildings have witnessed reductions of up to 40 percent on their energy and water bills.
The advantage of the LEED program is that it offers a third-party verification system for organizations to use as a measurement tool for their sustainable building strategies. Companies that earn certification can highlight these achievements through press releases and news stories. Firms can also keep track of their energy cost reductions, which could convey that they have improved their financial stability as a result of greater efficiency.
In addition to green building retrofits, businesses may benefit from healthy cleaning initiatives. Facilities that are maintained with "green cleaning" techniques are generally much healthier work environments than those that are cleaned with traditional methods. This could lead to reduced employee absenteeism, as workers would become sick less often. Green cleaning programs use environmentally-friendly chemicals and Energy Star-approved equipment to foster a safer work environment, helping to increase employee productivity and reduce a firm's environmental impact.