The City of Southfield is proud of the robust business community that forms partnerships and drives economic development in the City. The City’s high profile business community has the opportunity to put sustainability at the forefront of their operations and inspire others to do the same. Below are a few ways businesses can incorporate sustainability in their work culture:
Incorporate Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into your business plan
Whether it’s through an in-house sustainability committee or an external sustainability consultant, your business can greatly benefit from identifying and establishing SDGs that align with your company’s vision. Not only will your company contribute to helping the environment, but having SDGs embedded in your business practices can contribute to attracting the next generation of professionals to your company.
The United Nations highlight 17 SDGs that are set as a global initiative for advancing sustainability in all countries. Depending on the type of business you have, many of your company’s sustainability goals may fall under one or more of the 17 SDGs identified by the United Nations.
Some examples of sustainability goals that your company can adopt may include going paperless, upgrading to energy-efficient appliances & equipment, reducing food waste, donating unused materials, and/or retrofitting existing buildings to follow green building standards. While there are simple and complex sustainability goals that a business can implement, it’s important to remember that any action you take to promote sustainability is an action that contributes to an enhanced quality of life for all.
Consider Renewable Energy
If your business is considering remodeling or building a new office, there are renewable energy options that can power the buildings and vehicles your employees utilize daily. Please consult with licensed and certified professionals as well as your local utility provider regarding the feasibility, cost, and lifecycle analysis for any of these options:
EV Charging Stations
With the continued increase of electric vehicles (EVs) on the roads, many businesses have installed EV charging stations for employee use as an amenity. However, EV charging stations may soon become a necessity as the automotive industry moves towards increased electric vehicle manufacturing and promoting more consumer sales of electric vehicles.
Solar panel installation has increased in recent years and has many applications. The most traditional solar panel provides electricity to a building. However, there are other solar applications that can be used as other renewable energy components to a building such as solar lighting, solar car ports, solar generators, solar ventilation systems, and solar water heaters.
For urban settings, integrating micro wind turbines on a building can prove to be a successful energy-generating option. These micro turbines are typically mounted on the top of a building and can have a unique aesthetic appeal.
Geothermal systems use the energy of the earth to heat and cool buildings. These systems can be incorporated into a new construction design or installed to meet the energy needs of an existing building.
Renewable Energy Certificates
Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) are an alternative way for businesses to support renewable energy sources without the installation of renewable energy systems on their site. In accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency, a REC is a market-based tool that represents the property rights to the environmental attributes of renewable energy generation. RECs expand a utility customer’s electricity service choices that support the development of renewable energy. DTE customers can elect to participate in the MIGreenPower program which supports electricity generated by Michigan wind and solar parks.
Another way to showcase the achievements of more complex sustainability goals is to obtain a green certification that highlights your business’s success. Please consult with a professional architect or engineer specializing in sustainable design to guide you through the certification process. Here are some of the more common green certification and rating systems:
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
The LEED rating system for green buildings is known globally and is administered through the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED is the most widely used green building rating system and can be applied to new construction and existing buildings. Buildings have the potential to achieve a certified, silver, gold, or platinum certification in various project types.
The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) oversees the Envision framework and certification. Envision is a holistic sustainability rating system that applies to a variety of infrastructure projects. Projects have the potential to achieve a verified, silver, gold, or platinum certification by accumulating credits in five different categories.
The Sustainable SITES Initiative
The SITES rating system is a comprehensive set of guidelines that focus on the sustainability and resiliency of landscapes and outdoor spaces. SITES is applicable to projects that have or do not have a building component. Projects can achieve points to obtain certified, silver, gold, or platinum certification. SITES is compatible with the LEED rating system.
The PLEDGE on Food Waste
The PLEDGE on Food Waste is a certification and benchmarking system designed to reduce food waste, save on food costs, and bring awareness to the importance of food waste reduction. Restaurants, campus dining halls, and other food service providers have the opportunity to market their sustainability efforts and save approximately 3-5% on food costs. Participants can earn a certified, silver, gold, or all-star certification based on the number of program activities successfully completed.
Benefit Corporation (B Corp)
A Benefit Corporation (B Corp) is a type of for-profit company that seeks to balance profit with social and environmental goals. B Corps are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions not only on their shareholders but also on their workers, customers, communities, and the environment. B Corps are certified by a third-party organization, B Lab, which assesses their performance based on various social and environmental metrics. The certification process is rigorous and requires companies to meet certain standards of transparency, accountability, and social and environmental performance. B Corps aim to use business as a force for good and contribute to a more sustainable and equitable economy.
Offer Remote Working Options
Depending on the type of business, remote work may not be a feasible option. However, if your employees can perform their duties and responsibilities without driving into the office every day, then a flexible working plan may be a viable option for your business. In the United States, it is estimated that the average one-way commute takes approximately 27.6 minutes. Remote work has the potential to decrease the amount of greenhouse gas emissions due to commuting.
Incorporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
If your business is looking to add diverse talent to the team, incorporating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives are good ways to attract new talent and maintain a culture of acceptance in the workplace. Many companies have adopted DEI committees for their employees to join which can encourage many activities like volunteering, guest speakers, book clubs, potlucks, and other events that celebrate inclusivity of diverse backgrounds.
Support other Businesses
Perhaps the best way that your company can learn about sustainable workplace practices is learning from other business and companies. Networking and fostering relationships with other businesses in the community will provide insight and a new perspective on sustainability initiatives that you may have not considered. To connect with local businesses in the Southfield community, consider joining the Southfield Area Chamber of Commerce.