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High performance buildings are sustainable buildings in more ways than one. The conscientious, efficient use of resources aligns to both environmental and economic objectives. When developing a performance action plan to achieve a particular objective, it's important to investigate the positive and negative effects it might have on other mission-critical objectives.
For example, raising the temperature a few degrees during the hot summer months to reduce costs might downgrade working conditions for employees. The negative consequences of reduced productivity and higher employee turnover may counteract any expected operational cost savings.
Reducing operational costs is the number one reason why organizations want to reduce energy consumption. It makes sense: Energy-related costs are often one of the largest line items in an operating budget.
Energy conservation may align to the mission for other reasons, too: A company that is socially responsible in its business operations may qualify for inclusion in a green fund.
The scarcity of clean water is a growing global concern. Lower water tables are hindering agriculture in some areas. In other places, lack of potable water is the leading case of disease. In the U.S., water conservation has an immediate and direct impact on water and sewer utility costs.
Environmental responsibility and compliance is playing an increasingly important role in everyday decision-making. Ways to reduce waste streams, minimize natural resource use, and cut transportation distances are more important, and more readily available, than ever before.
Beyond voluntary programs, a growing body of environmental regulations is having an impact on direct operational costs—and even on the ability to continue operations.
In the realm of environmental impact, there are four main areas to balance: