Renewable energy is one way we can work with this design principle. Nature provides plenty of examples we can take inspiration from, and it is important to also consider the social aspects of any project.
- Renewable energy:
Let’s cover the obvious one first. Your options are either to install renewable energy production on your building or property, which may require a significant upfront investment, or you can purchase renewable energy from a retailer. The second option could be a very effective way of reducing your carbon footprint and impact quickly, whether at home or at the premises of a business or organisation, especially if you are leasing, or don’t have the funds available in the short term. Purchasing renewable energy also drives demand in the sector, which has the flow on effect of greater investment overall. If you can install solar (photovoltaic) panels or alternative energy sources, then do your homework, obtain quotes, and make sure to also address efficiencies in usage. There are green loans, low or no interest loans, incentive schemes and alternative sources of funding available, so it’s worth searching for local incentives and programs.
- Value your people:
Your employees (at every level) are the people that keep your business or organisation running. They turn up day after day, and the best of them go over and above their obligations and pay scales. If you look after them, value, and recognise their contribution then they will offer loyalty in return. If you take them for granted, or treat them with disdain and little better than cogs in a machine, then your business will suffer from low staff retention, high turnover rates, loss of productivity and the high costs of recruitment, induction, and training. Your people are your most valuable renewable resource!
- Cradle to grave products:
Every purchasing decision made by your organisation has ramifications for the supply chain that brought it to your door, its useful life, and for its eventual disposal by you or your customers. Customers are demanding greater accountability and action on environmental and social issues, so start by applying a sustainability lens to each purchasing decision. You may find it saves you money, and attracts new customers to your business.
- Greenhouse Gas emissions:
With carbon accounting, foot printing and reporting becoming more regulated, your Scope 3 emissions will include all the above factors. Remember, your scope 1 and 2 emissions (those produced directly by your actions or through purchased energy) become part of your customer’s supply chain and their Scope 3 emissions (upstream and downstream value chain). Even if you are a relatively small manufacturer or service provider that is not required to report on emissions, if you supply to larger organisations that are/will be required to report, they will want to know your numbers, to include in their Scope 3 reporting. Setting up systems now, will save time and effort in the future.
- Nature based solutions:
It is tempting to reach for a technological fix for many problems, but often there can be a simpler solution if we look to the models that nature provides. Implementing good design initially, taking advantage of shade provided by trees, vines, or vertical gardens, managing water runoff with reed bed filtration systems, natural building materials like straw, hemp, adobe, or rammed earth, and creating green spaces for air filtration, cooling, and rest and relaxation during breaks are all examples of how nature does it best!