It’s Not Easy Being Green

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With the recent heatwave in Seattle, we discovered that one of the joys of working in a LEED-certified building is that there are controls on how long the air-conditioning can be run (or rather, I suppose, the usage of energy to run the building). That means it wouldn’t kick on until after the sun had already come up, making for some warm mornings in any areas with east-facing windows. For me, I always thought LEED Certification was one of those one-time things, not an ongoing set of practices. Obviously, that would defeat the whole point of sustainability, though the biggest issue seems to be planning intelligently for the future for the life of the building along with developing practices to that purpose. It’s not just as simple as following a checklist.

Beyond LEED-certified buildings, my company has taken other steps to be more environmentally-friendly. It’s not an easy thing to accomplish and an Environmental Design and Construction magazine report pointed out that not only is it hard to do, it’s also hard to measure:

“The hope is that people are not intentionally misrepresenting themselves; they just don’t understand how challenging it is to be “green.” The important lesson we wanted people to take away from our presentation was that you have to ask questions — lots of questions.”

“Determining whether Group Health was doing a good job wasn’t as easy to decide as those involved thought it would be. The questions to be reviewed turned out to be more difficult than anticipated; in many cases, figuring out the answers wasn’t simple.”

Other companies struggle to implement green policies too. Over at Timberland, they’ve introduced a number of measures to make their business more environmentally friendly including only buying leather that doesn’t deplete the Amazon biome and painting their roof white. But it’s not as easy as it might seem, particularly when it comes to banning bottled water.

In the Bootmaker’s blog (formerly, the Earthkeeper’s Blog), Jeff Swartz, the President & CEO of Timberland, noted, “It’s really exhilarating to want to run a more sustainable business… but to actually do it is really freaking hard.”

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