Companies and organizations are currently evolving to perfect sustainability as an integral part of their business strategies – sustainability strategies not only offer environmental benefits but also help with the bottom line. Common categories of sustainability strategies include considering the location and transportation methods surrounding a site, the sustainability in development of a site, water and energy efficiency, building controls, indoor air quality, and materials and resources. These categories address the ongoing operations of existing buildings, as well as actions that can be taken in new developments to reduce waste and negative impacts on the environment and energy and water demands.
The health and well-being of a building’s occupants is an important factor in measuring the sustainability of a building, as sick building syndrome is an increasingly frequent occurrence in which tenants are complaining of increased illness, irritated eyes, skin rashes, and trouble breathing. Studies have shown that poor indoor air quality negatively affects building occupants that manifests in lowered student test scores, decreased worker productivity, higher rates of absenteeism, as well as a drastic increase in asthma rates, especially among children.
Sustainability strategies are also vital in considering climate change resilience for buildings – with an upward trend of increased average global temperatures, the effects of climate change will continue to worsen and intensify. Therefore, it is essential that we learn to adapt to this new climate and think strategically about how our existing buildings and infrastructure need to be renovated, and how new developments should be redesigned to incorporate resiliency strategies.