As I close the final chapters on Airport Business’ sustainability issue, I’m reflecting on the concept of going green. I’m impressed and amazed by what airports are doing to be more sustainable; it’s a far change from when I began writing about green construction and initiatives in business a mere five years ago. But we still have a long way to go.
Today it seems that every time you turn around there’s an article, news story or website talking about how to “be greener.”
And if that isn’t enough, there’s also a myriad of ways to be greener, making it hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.
To be sure there are plenty of drastic and costly measures designed to reduce one’s environmental impact. And for those already successfully moving along the green brick road, they may be viable options. But if you’re just starting your journey, maybe the best approach is to pick the low-hanging sustainability fruit first.
What about your waste? Have you already initiated paper and plastic recycling in your facility? Set up receptacles for that to occur throughout the building, even in office spaces. Educate those working there and those coming in about the importance of recycling and where to drop off their recyclables through signage and easy access to receptacles.
Take a look at your outdated electronics. Where are they going? Chances are if you’re like most industries, outdated electronics are going straight to the landfill or taking up space in closets throughout your facility. Find a recycler of these products, and then recycle away.
After you’ve gained some success with the low-hanging fruit, start looking for bigger fish to fry. Got a new terminal construction project? Look into ways it can be more sustainable. Think long term in the design phase, and don’t expect an immediate payback on your investment. A green roof, for example, may cost more initially but it also has twice the life span. HVAC and lighting systems that adjust themselves accordingly may have higher price tags, but they will reduce energy consumption tremendously, which translates to savings over time. And don’t overlook the small things, such as getting construction materials locally and recycling construction waste into the new facility.
And as you embark on your sustainable journey, remember these three words: People, planet and profit, and ask yourself the following three questions for every green initiative: How will this sustainable initiative benefit the people who work in or pass through this facility? What will be the environmental benefits of this effort? And finally, what will the return on investment be?
Going green begins with the first step. Why not take it today?