The Pace of Business is On the Rise


Business challenges we all face when responding to change.

Research by Progress Software/Economist Intelligence research showed some interesting statistics regarding the shifting business landscape around us.  The statistics show that the pace of business is the on the rise, and the top three factors causing this change over the past five years are the volatile economic environment, increased competition and a fast-changing regulatory environment. Unfortunately, businesses have barriers to overcome to react to the fast pace, including lack of resources, lack of coordination and inaccurate or incomplete data. Take a look at their infographic.

Most importantly, an overwhelming 53% of people believe leadership is ineffective in making the right decisions about how or when to respond to change.  Fortunately, we can all overcome these challenges by incorporating strong leadership, effective flow of information and keeping accurate and up-to-date data.

The Greenest Building and Building Reuse

Reusing Building Is Greener

Since there has been an increase in environmental awareness across the country, it’s fascinating to see how many varying viewpoints there are on how to improve the environment and reduce energy usage. One study, by Preservation Green Lab, funded in part by National Trust for Historic Preservation, focused on reductions in climate change by reusing and retrofitting existing buildings rather than demolishing and replacing them with new construction. The organization utilized a Life Cycle Analysis methodology to compare the relative environmental impacts of the two different approaches over the course of a 75-year life span. The study examined many indicators, including climate change, human health, ecosystem quality, and resource depletion, and evaluated six different building types within each climate zone across the U.S. According to the report, “this research provides the most comprehensive analysis to date of the potential environmental impact reductions associated with building reuse”.

Interestingly, the study found that “building reuse almost always yields fewer environmental impacts than new construction when comparing buildings of similar size and functionality”. Even more astonishing, the study concluded that “savings from reuse are between 4 and 46 percent over new construction when comparing buildings with the same energy performance level and it can take between 10 and 80 years for a new, energy-efficient building to overcome, through more efficient operations, the negative climate change impacts that were created during the construction process”.

Architecture 2030 Issues the ‘2030 Challenge’

2030 Challenge Logo

Architecture 2030 is a non-profit, non-partisan and independent organization, which was established in 2012, by architect Edward Mazria, in response to the climate change crisis.  According to the Architecture 2030 website, “Our goal is straightforward:  to achieve a dramatic reduction in the climate-change-causing greenhouse gas emissions of the Building Sector by changing the way buildings and developments are planned, designed and constructed”.    To accomplish this goal, Architecture 2030 has issued “The 2030 Challenge”, asking the global architecture and building community to adopt the following:

-“All new buildings, developments and major renovations shall be designed to meet a fossil fuel, GHG-emitting, energy consumption performance standard of 60% below the regional (or country) average/median for that building type.

-At a minimum, an equal amount of existing building area shall be renovated annually to meet a fossil fuel, GHG-emitting, energy consumption performance standard of 60% of the regional (or country) average/median for that building type.

-The fossil fuel reduction standard for all new buildings and major renovations shall be increased to:

  • 70% in 2015
  • 80% in 2020
  • 90% in 2025
  • Carbon-neutral in 2030 (using no fossil fuel GHG emitting energy to operate)”.

Architecture 2030 believes these targets can be reached by using renewable energy sources.  The organization also believes that since buildings have essentially been the problem, it is now time for buildings to become the solution.

The American Institute of Architects has developed a similar program which the organization is calling the “AIA 2030 Commitment”.  They are trying to reach similar goals by implementing a standardized reporting format to help firms evaluate the impact their design decisions have on energy performance and the environment.

The Water Fountain Evolves

photograph of drinking fountain for water bottles

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, James R. Hagerty reveals a growing trend in water fountain use:  people are carrying reusable water bottles, and instead of drinking from water fountains, they just want to refill their water bottles, but the basic drinking fountain that has been a steady seller for decades isn’t working well for these people.  The problem that arises from the traditional water fountain is the awkward angle they have to hold the bottle to refill it- which results in wet shoes or clothes from the splashing water.

Keeping this new water fountain user in mind, new types of fountains, designed to refill bottles have been introduced.  According to Hagerty, “water is more popular as Americans reduce consumption of high-calorie soft drinks.  Tap and bottled water accounted for around 30% of the typical American’s liquid intake last year, up from 16% two decades before.  Nearly half of that water came from taps, including drinking fountains”.  So, this new fountain, developed specifically for refilling bottles, couldn’t have been introduced at a better time than now.  Also, with more people choosing to reuse and recycle, this water fountain provides an environmentally friendly alternative to tossing another plastic water bottle in a landfill.

This new trend is sweeping across college campuses, so Muhlenberg College began buying Elkay fountains after students campaigned against what they saw as plastic-bottle waste.  David Rabold, capital projects manager at Muhlenberg, says “sales of bottle water on campus have fallen 90% since the EZH2O fountains were installed”.  If this trend is reaching hundreds of colleges and universities, then it won’t be long before it sweeps across corporate America.  Commercial real estate investors could take advantage of this trend by offering these new bottle-filling water fountains in new construction and renovations to attract a new breed of environmentally and health conscious workers.

Green Globes Provides Competition for USGB’s LEED Certification

Green Building Initiative

According to Mary Shanklin, in an Orlando Sentinel article, “The longtime standard for constructing energy-efficient buildings- LEED certification- is no longer the only option in the ‘green’-construction business”.  For the longest time, buildings that have passed the U.S Green Building Council’s rigorous certification have proved to be exceedingly energy efficient and cost effective, but now there is Green Globes; a lesser known certification that is beginning to make a name for itself as well.  According to Shanklin, “The Green Globes certification is a less costly and more flexible way to prove that a building makes the most of available efficiencies”.

While the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program has defined environmentally sound construction standards for more than 7,000 projects in about 30 countries for almost 15 years, Green Globes has been emerging in Canada since 1996, which is “being promoted in the U.S. by the Green Building Initiative, a nonprofit based in Portland, Oregon”.  The Green Globes system may be more beneficial, because it is more flexible and you work directly with an assessor, whereas with the LEED certification you may have to wait a month for a response to your questions.  Green Globes is trying to raise awareness of their brand and make a name for themselves in the “green” construction world, so the customer service and interaction they offer is unparalleled. 

The cost savings is another reason the Green Globes system is gaining traction.  According to Shanklin, “In 2008, LEED registration cost about $900 to $3,000 and the certification cost about $1,875 to $20,000, [whereas] a Green Globes self-assessment cost $500, and the certification runs from $300 to $6,000”.  This more affordable Green Globes system could allow more construction companies to reap the benefits of building green.  Overall, the Green Globes certification provides healthy competition to the USGB’s LEED program, and offers construction companies valuable options in an ever growing “green” market.