These days, it's hard to talk about office real estate without mentioning the words, "sustainable design".
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For many small business owners, sustainable design is simply code for expensive, environmentally-friendly features in a workspace. The big question is whether or not sustainable design provides any benefits to business owners themselves.
Sustainable design is generally understood as the process of designing spaces and products that reduce the consumption of non-renewal resources and minimize the impact on the environment.
Although the environmental and societal benefits of sustainable design are unquestionable, business owners often feel that the pressure to conform to sustainable design standards is just a subtle form of taxation, placing the burden of the environment on the shoulders of small business.
However, sustainable design also has some significant direct benefits for business owners in the place that matters the most - the business' bottom line. Here's how . . . .
Study after study has shown that healthy working environments lead to substantial increases in employee productivity. In a well-designed workspace, employees have lower absentee rates and are capable of higher production levels than they are in unhealthy working environments.
If that sounds questionable to you, consider this: One of the most commonly reported ailments in older workspace are asthma-related problems that occur as a result of poor air quality.
More than 17 million Americans suffer from asthma, many of whom are employed in small businesses across the country. By cleaning up the air quality of your workspace you are not only helping the environment, but putting dollars in your pocket.
Since labor costs are probably your biggest expense item, even small improvements in a work environment can have a noticeable bottom line impact.
Sustainable design facilities also benefit small business owners by increasing real estate values. Given the choice between an older facility and one that has been retrofitted with sustainable design features, buyers are more likely to purchase the retrofit - even if it means shelling out a little more upfront.
Why? Because savvy buyers know that sustainable design facilities usually pay for themselves in the long run. If you plan to lease part of your facility, sustainable design features are attractive to tenants as well.
The single most important financial incentive for sustainable design is lower operating costs.
Upfront expenses typically account for less than 15% of the total costs in the life of a building. More than 85% of the costs are in operating expenses related to owning the building.
Today's sustainable design features target energy efficiency, resulting in lower costs for heating, cooling, and lighting your building. In a market with rising energy prices, sustainable design efficiencies will save your company money now and for many years to come.