‘Green’ is very much the word of the day across many industries, and with good reason. Our haphazard use of the planet and its resources has put us in something of a desperate situation, but changes can be made to hopefully offset this effect to some extent. One approach that may be taken is the introduction of green building policies, or in fact the renovation of existing premises in order to reduce their emissions and overall carbon footprint.

Unfortunately financial concerns often get in the way of such eco-friendly thinking, yet this need not be the case. In fact, new research conducted by Philips Lighting and released as part of World Green Building Week has shown that increasing renovation rates across Europe to capture green building aspects could not only provide a helping hand to the environment, but also save businesses a substantial sum of money.

More specifically, the research from Philips Lighting suggests that if renovation rates throughout Europe were to be doubled – up to a rate of 3% per annum – the extra space created coupled with improvements to energy usage could generate up to $243bn in business savings.

Harry Verhaar, head of global public and government affairs at Philips Lighting, said of the research, “Renovating buildings to make them more energy efficient can have a huge beneficial impact on the environment, and when they are renovated properly to encompass smart technology, the additional financial impact for businesses can also be vast.

“This can significantly reduce bills for energy, water and air conditioning, and generate even greater financial benefits by improving the productivity of employees through enabling them to do things like find a meeting room faster or adapt the light and temperature conditions at their workstation.”

If such practices were to be implemented on a global scale, the report suggests potential savings of up to a staggering $1.5 trillion. The Asian market would likely be the largest contributor to this, with more than 65 billion square feet of office space capable of generating $977bn in reduced costs annually.

It’s not just the offices themselves that can be refurbished to great effect however, but also the furniture found within. This is according to another recent investigation conducted by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), which examined the impact of discarded furniture in the EU in relation to carbon emissions, making use of data collected from 140 member organisations across more than 30 countries.

The study found that improved refurbishment and remanufacture of discarded furniture could save around six million tonnes of CO2, all while creating up to 157,000 jobs in the EU.

At present, around 10 million tonnes of furniture enter the EU market each year, which wouldn’t be an issue if it wasn’t for the fact that roughly the same amount is also discarded via landfill or incineration. According to the EEB, many of the problems stem from wider issues such as increased raw material costs, poor workforce turnover and growing competitiveness from low-cost imports. Identifying the issue is only the first step however, and measures must be taken to counteract this trend before it creates substantial problems.

The EEB’s senior policy officer for product policy, Carsten Wachholz, states, “By avoiding furniture waste, EU policy makers can boost a market that was hardly hit by the recent crises and is part of our cultural heritage and style. But this will require the adoption of appropriate demand and supply chain levers to support a change across the industry.”

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor as he continues to expand his horizons.
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