Sustainability and profitable business


These days sustainability is a hot item. But what is it exactly, can we measure it? Lots of people talk about sustainability, they all know something about it, mostly about low energy use and renewable energy, but there is much more to it.

In my view sustainability is not a target, but a tool to reach a target. I think owning a firm you will look for making profit, how will the firm develop itself over the next few years and over the next generation, but also how can processes be improved, smaller costs, lower impact. Minimalising waste, use less energy or green energy, reduce transport costs, waste and pollution by using local products, all perfect exemples of how your business can be improved and become more profitable.

One of the best descriptions/defenitions for the term sustainable development still is the one given by the Bruntland Commission of the UN: “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. This includes someway everything, from corporate social responsibility to water, waste and energy use, from fairtrade and biologic to education.

There is a wide range of systems and concepts to measure and support this, such as Fairtrade, Cradle 2 Cradle, Organic, Greencalc, life cycle analysis(LCA), BREEAM, planetree, and so on. Here I would like to talk (shortly) about BREEAM, because unlike the other systems which are often focused on just one thing ( greencalc-energy, LCA- materials, etc) BREEAM has a wide range of focus points.

Looking at BREEAM a wide range on subjects/tools is offered to get to a more profitable business. BREEAM, short for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology is an original British method to measure sustainability, now used in over 60 countries. BREEAM includes 9 sustainability categories: 1. Management; 2. Energy; 3. Health & wellbeing; 4. Transport; 5. Water; 6. Materials; 7. Waste; 8. Land use and ecology; and 9. Pollution. With these categories the method tries to encompass the whole life cycle of buildings from planning to in-use and refurbishment. for each of this categories there is a number of things you can get creditpoints for. BREEAM scores following the next table:

stars score % creditpoints
* pass >30%
** good >45%
*** very good >55%
**** excellent >70%
***** outstanding >85%



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