Green Building Can Help Companies Cut Energy Use and Emissions

Op-Ed: Here’s how companies can strong-arm their suppliers into cutting carbon emissions

By the U.S. Green Building Council

(The following is the first in a three-part series on companies that use green products and services, but make a big green footprint, as well.)

At a time when global warming is beginning to take on a more significant presence in the policy world, a new report from the U.S. Green Building Council details how construction companies, large manufacturers, and even the leading real estate firms are all starting to pay attention to what green building can do for their bottom lines.

Among the benefits of green building, the report notes, is that it can help companies cut energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, thereby helping them weather the recent economic downturn better. “Our results suggest that the biggest green building companies in the United States are gaining ground on their competitors in the marketplace by becoming more integrated with their supply chain,” said John Buells, president and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council.

Companies that have built green buildings are saving “an average of 8.6% year over year on their total energy use, and 8.3% year over year on emissions,” according to the report.

But it goes one step further. In addition to helping companies cut on their energy use and emissions, the report recommends that green building practices result in a 14-14-12 return on investment for construction firms and a 12-12-10 return for real estate firms.

For example, the report says, a $40 million investment in a green building with sustainable technologies such as advanced lighting, efficient plumbing and water systems, and water conservation can return as much as $25 million in savings in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Although the report is intended for businesspeople and large corporations, the U.S. Green Building Council said that the findings can be implemented by smaller companies in their own businesses, too. It recommends that smaller building supply companies can benefit

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