By Vuk Vujovic, LEED AP and Douglas J. Ogurek
Published in the March 2006 issue of Today’s Facility Manager
What do the “green” Olympic Games, the Kyoto Protocol, and hybrid cars have in common? They all point to an increasing global awareness of the human impact on the natural environment and the effects it has on current and future societies around the world.
At the beginning of the 21st century, mounting scientific evidence and hard to ignore natural phenomena (e.g., melting ice caps, escalating hurricane seasons) have contributed to the speedy development of various sustainable concepts, lifestyles, and technologies. The movement has already influenced many aspects of society from manufacturing and advertising to economies and politics.
Recently, China dubbed its 2008 summer Olympics the “Green Olympics,” while London plans to make 2012 “the greenest Olympics ever.” Members of the corporate media around the globe increasingly use “green appeal” to promote an environmental agenda and achieve favorable recognition.
In 1997, the UN adopted the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement aimed at curbing global greenhouse gas emissions. One hundred and twenty two countries support the agreement. Many of these nations have already voluntarily adopted potentially costly measures designed to slow down the global warming phenomenon and have introduced sustainability into their national agendas.
Meanwhile, on a bottom line consumer level, fuel efficient hybrid cars keep gaining on SUVs and pickups, even in the United States. Americans are starting to fall out of love with fossil fuels and big cars as they come to understand the impact of the rising costs of energy on their personal and corporate budgets. It seems that U.S. consumers are finally getting tired of putting more money into the gas pump and are looking for alternatives.
In the U.S., interest in energy efficiency, high-performance design, building occupant health, and recycling has mushroomed from academic discussions in lecture halls and scientific journals to the 10 o’clock news, radio talk shows, and even political campaigns. A cursory review of recent advertising reveals that multibillion dollar corporations like Ford, GE, Chevron, and BP Global are starting to spend considerable amounts to promote their newly found environmentally sensitive images.
The initially subtle shift in public awareness of environmental issues has gradually evolved into a strong demand for energy conservation and environmental resourcefulness. Corporate pioneers who staked an early claim in this newly created sustainable frontier are already profiting by saving costs and responding to a change in the global consumer mindset.