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Sustaining Sustainability

By Ed Sullivan - August 2003 - Design & Construction


Despite the uncertain state of the economy, the number of companies willing to invest in environmentally friendly facility designs and technologies continues to grow. One reason is that top executives are looking to show that their organizations are trying to protect the environment.

Call it greenwash if you like. In some cases it undoubtedly is. But it’s also an opportunity for facility executives.

For one thing, top management may be receptive to investments that don’t meet short-term payback criteria. It’s up to facility executives to make the case for those investments — and make sure those measures aren't value-engineered out of a project.

It's also crucial to allot time and money to steps that aren’t part of standard procedures. At the top of the list: Take a holistic view of the building. Doing that from day one will produce the best possible building while minimizing any first-cost premium.

It's also important to find — and pay for — qualified designers. Look for a track record and understand that green design takes longer. Higher design costs can be repaid by lower capital and operating costs.

Commissioning is also essential. Neglecting it can jeopardize both return on investment and performance.

The idea of sustainable design still meets with skepticism on many fronts. That makes it important to get green design right, not just for the organization, but for the idea of green buildings. It's a win-win: The more a green building does for you, the more you do for green buildings.





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