Years ago, when recycling was first gaining attention, people used to talk about the 3 R’s of environmental responsibility: Reduce, Re-use and Recycle.
Today, we live in a more complex world where the 3 R’s are still (if not more) vailed, they have expanded. Not only do we now know to perform these environmental steps in order, but we have added several more R’s.
The exact number varies according to who you ask, but today, let’s check out the 6 R’s of sustainability. These include all of the above, plus three more R’s: Repurpose, Refuse and Repair.
These steps can be especially helpful when utilized in commercial spaces, on a larger and more cohesive level; adding to not only productivity, but sustainability.
So, what do these terms mean, and how can we use them to make commercial spaces more eco-friendly? Let’s take a look:
Putting the 6 R’s of Sustainability to Work in Your Building
1. Reduce — Anything more than what you actually use is simply waste — especially when you’re not paying for it. This is especially true when it comes to utilities. According to ENERGY STAR, the average commercial building wastes 30 percent of the energy it uses. The good news is that implementing a water and energy saving strategy need not be difficult or expensive, and will usually save you a lot of money. Air sealing, fixing water leaks and switching to energy-efficient light bulbs are great places to start.
2. Re-use — This means you use the same item for the same purpose more than one time. For example, using reclaimed wood flooring for a remodeling project instead of virgin lumber. Many such materials are beautiful and can bring a unique ambiance to your commercial space. With a creative mindset, the possibilities are endless.
3. Recycle — Recycling is not the same as re-using. Recycling means to return material to a previous stage in the manufacturing process. For example, milk jugs can be melted and used to make plastic lumber or yarn for carpeting. Consider using such products in your commercial remodeling projects. They can even earn you points for LEED certification.
4. Repurpose — To repurpose an object means to use it again, but in a different way than re-using it. By repurposing, you’re using a material in a different way than it was originally intended. A good example of this is the latest trend of building homes and commercial buildings out of old shipping containers.You can also repurpose the space. Do you have an underutilized room or structure? Why not remodel it into something that is profitable? Doing so will ensure that the resources in that space are used wisely.
5. Refuse — This fifth principle of going green may seem similar to “reduce,” but there’s an important difference. Reduce means only using as much as you actually need of a necessary resource. Refuse means to say “no” to items you really don’t need at all, such as the toxic chemicals present in many commercial cleaners. You can just say no to them and ask your commercial maintenance company to help you implement an eco-friendly cleaning policy instead.
6. Repair — Finally, whenever you can fix an item instead of trashing and replacing it, you’ll keep objects out of the landfill. Repairing an existing item also saves all the resources that would have gone into manufacturing, storing and transporting the replacement item. Besides, it will usually save you a lot of money versus buying new.
You may have noticed that nearly all of these eco-friendly principles are not only good for the planet, they will also save you money in the long run. In fact, following them can make a huge positive impact on your bottom line. Now, that’s sustainable in the best sense of the word!
Today’s blog post was written by guest blogger, Steve Fountaine. Steve is the Owner of Premiere Works. Serving the Washington DC, Southern Maryland, and Northern Virginia areas with services ranging from commercial painting to construction to commercial contracting. Whenever possible, the crew at Premiere Works tries to incorporate green practices.