How to make ESG commitments, save money & the planet

Buildings contribute 40% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and present an actionable source of energy efficiency, emissions reduction, and cost savings. Companies can announce GHG or other environmental performance targets that reduce energy use and water consumption through real-time monitoring technologies that adjust building conditions to save money and reduce energy use. However, companies should avoid over-committing themselves to specific emissions reduction targets unless they can track and meet those goals.

Companies can install achievable energy use reduction techniques, including heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) retrofits, weatherization, insulation, and lighting upgrades. In addition, companies can seek building design and energy-system certifications through the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (“LEED”) programme. Finally, building upgrades are not limited to the interior, as companies can also explore exterior design improvements like water-efficient fixtures, irrigation controls and drought-resistant landscaping.

Companies should know that a LEED project does not always receive the full LEED credit expected for the upgrades, as significant investments to update a building could fall a few points short of a Platinum, Gold or Silver LEED certification. Therefore, companies should aim for an additional cushion of points above the desired certification level. However, concerns about meeting full LEED certifications should not prevent a company from embracing sustainable design.

Additionally, companies should be aware that environmentally friendly products the companies want to use in their building design do not always live up to their claims or can be rapidly replaced with better technology. Therefore, to adequately evaluate…

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