Sustainability has been an growing concern in the business world over the last decade as the public has increasingly seen the role that companies can play in shaping our interaction with the natural world. Often, at times, these efforts are aimed at curbing the negative effect of practices such as mining, logging, and overfishing. Yet there is also a trend towards sustainable development which aims to incorporate both business growth and the health of the environment.
One of the largest environmental concerns, which sustainable development is able to mitigate, is global warming. Lighting energy expenditure is a large source of greenhouse gas emissions, one of the chief causes of global warming. In recent years, technologies such as compact florescent light bulbs and LED’s have offered more efficient alternatives to the incandescent light bulb. In addition to these alternative sources of lighting, there are still many opportunities to cut lighting energy use. Environmental regulations such as the Kyoto Protocol have served as an impetus for change for many governments around the world. Companies have also developed their own measures of sustainability as well, in areas where government involvement is less active.
Recycled materials are one such area where businesses have taken the initiative. When it comes to clothing, it is now possible to return garments to some providers in exchange for a discounted price on buying a replacement piece of clothing. By dismantling clothes into their constituent materials, such as nylon fibres, manufacturers are able to reconstruct new and innovative products.
Sustainable land use is another important concern of both individuals and businesses alike.
Endangered Species legislation has provided context for the course of many development concerns, especially the protection of critical habitat. Mixed land use spaces have become increasingly popular, with land owners combining vegetation, regression, and habitat all on the same plot. In recent years, energy production has also served as a viable option for individuals looking to maximize their space as well as decrease their carbon footprint. Solar installations on home are an affordable way to generate electricity. Wind farms across the UK are becoming increasingly popular as the cost of developing the farms is slowly declining and competition from abroad is providing a greater selection.
Automobiles have also seen a jump in focus towards sustainability. Hybrid electric cars provide a much higher mile per gallon and are additionally becoming popular for making an eco-friendly statement. Advances in battery storage and price are still needed to continue widespread adoption and use. The infrastructure needed to support electric cars is another piece of the puzzle that is still in question. While charging stations could be placed in one’s home, public charging stations such as at supermarkets and other shopping centres remain a possibility that manufacturers are hoping to see in the not so distant future.
And perhaps nothing is a more visually compelling sign of the increasing prominence of sustainable development than architecture’s adaptation of the principle. With a focus on natural light and cooling, there has already been significant cost savings involved also.
Robert Dean has worked in the environmental paper shredding business for several years and believes in the importance of recycling business waste. Businesses must step up given the current state of the environment and do their part to help tackle climate change. He currently works for The Shredding Alliance.