We’ve all seen the impact of climate change on the environment and the pressing demand on organizations to adopt cleaner, greener and more sustainable practices to protect our future generations. Amidst a pandemic and climate crisis in 2020, organizations today are facing increasing pressure to safeguard their business, assets and people – all while balancing financial constraints and sustainability goals no matter what type of ‘normal’ we may find ourselves in.
While the green building industry has continued to grow in the last decade, investing in smart energy solutions isn’t exactly at the top the of everyone’s minds, even more so during a pandemic. For the uninitiated, some have the misconception that going green is expensive and has a slow payoff – so why bother? If this mindset doesn’t change, what does this mean for our environment and the buildings of now, and the future? How can green buildings help organizations save money, contribute to our climate goals and drive economic growth for societies at large?
For some, it’s about improving efficiency and reducing operating costs; for others it’s a crucial step in future-proofing their assets against climate risks or securing the reliability of their energy supply. But every organization has a connection to the environment – here are some key aspects to consider in the journey towards a more sustainable future:
Debunking the myth
Many organizations may be reluctant to pursue sustainability initiatives because of lingering misconceptions about their perceived costs and benefits. Evidently, most organizations aim to maximize profit with the least amount of investment and quickest payoff period. Without the proper research and evidence into the long-term benefits of energy and sustainability management, many still buy into the myth that such technologies require a hefty capital investment.
The truth is, going green won’t break the bank. Adopting green building solutions is not only preferable in terms of long-term cost-savings, but in fact quite feasible from the get-go with the availability of new IoT technologies. Business owners that are looking for reliable ways to save money are now turning their attention to smart energy solutions as a means to reduce costs, achieve faster results and promote a healthier environment. From lighting to Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning (HVAC) – going green can start with small steps and evolve into larger undertakings such as photovoltaic panels on rooftops or eCharging infrastructure.
If unchecked, these myths will continue to stand in the way of mainstreaming commitment to sustainability. Learning to deal with them is the beginning of sustainability wisdom.
It’s a positive-sum game
Consider buildings: CO2 emissions from buildings reached an all-time high in 2019. But with the ‘new normal’, the energy needs will be reassessed based on changing demands and expectations. In the long term, buildings will reduce their carbon footprint and place a stronger emphasis on enhancing indoor air quality and improving ventilation to mitigate risks.
Investing in green buildings now can generate greater payoffs down the road. The benefits of adopting smart energy solutions and services extends far beyond cost-savings. The implementation of energy services including asset performance management or chiller plant optimization will in fact make buildings or facilities less expensive to operate and maintain, as well as lengthen the lifecycle expectancy.
In a CEO Study by Accenture, 93% of executives in 2010 said that sustainability was critical to their future success. That number has grown over the years, especially for the world’s largest companies, where it hovers at nearly 100% in 2019. Sustainable practices are good for business and investing in sustainability has also shown that employees are more engaged, creating a measurable improvement in profitability and an increase in productivity.
Adopting a green financial model
But how can we make this happen?
With the ongoing pandemic, organizations are faced with shrinking budgets and a reshuffling of mission-critical priorities. Many find themselves teetering on the brink of an economic upheaval, so it’s no surprise that financing remains one of the key barriers to investing in energy and sustainability management.
The truth is – one does not actually need to save money to spend money. Through a green financing model, customers can overcome their CAPEX constraints by turning their investments into an OPEX. For example, Siemens’ partnership with Berkeley Energy Commercial & Industrial Solutions (BECIS) makes it possible to offer capital-intensive solutions to customers on a flexible ‘Energy as a Service (‘EaaS’) model. This alleviates the need for upfront investments and helps customer pay for their building performance improvements through the savings achieved over the term of the contract. This enables organizations to achieve better operational outcomes without the need to divert capital from their core business priorities.
Define your North Star
When a building performs the way it should, financial resources can be channeled into other critical tasks, thereby ensuring business continuity while achieving sustainability goals. Whether you are building green from the start or want to transition towards smarter energy and sustainability management, remember that going green is green.
Eventually, organizations that prove they care for the environment will have a greater competitive edge and resonate with more clients and customers who are looking to do business with responsible companies. Establishing your corporate sustainability goals and mission is essential to develop your North Star and identify actionable steps to achieve your goals in both the short and long-term. From here, we can develop a strategic sustainability plan to set you up for success.
Sustainable business isn’t a passing trend – it’s here to stay and the new way of doing business. If one is looking to protect your organization’s competitiveness, you should find a partner to help your organization truly realize the potential of going green.
Join me, along with other industry thought leaders for a webinar as we explore the changing landscape of energy & sustainability: https://new.siemens.com/sg/en/company/fairs-events/webinar-energy.html
 Tracking Buildings: https://www.iea.org/reports/tracking-buildings-2020
 The United Nations Global Compact —Accenture Strategy CEO Study on Sustainability 2019 https://www.accenture.com/_acnmedia/PDF-109/Accenture-UNGC-CEO-Study.pdf#zoom=40
 Press Release, 22 July 2020: https://press.siemens.com/global/en/pressrelease/siemens-partners-becis-accelerate-deployment-distributed-energy-asia-pacific