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Reduce environmental impacts your office

July 26, 2018

Reduce environmental impacts your office

In recent years, the climate changes that can be seen at a global level have affected several regions of the country and concerns in different economic sectors continues to grow. Many companies want to initiate projects to reduce the environmental impacts produced by their different activities. How to start? Juliana Fernandez Managing Partner of AEI, LEED AP accredited and highly experienced in sustainable projects, provides her point of view on this subject in a short interview.

How can companies on a day to day basis help to mitigate the impacts on the environment (in case they do not have sustainable offices)?

First, it is highly important to train and report to all co-workers about how our day-to-day actions (inside and outside the office) make an impact on the environment. We must work on creating a sustainable culture and this must begin at home. With awareness, change will come from within and it will be possible to build offices, buildings and cities that fit in with environmental practices.

Companies must provide the conditions for employees to think “green” such as persuading to reduce paper use; installing recycling points, encourage the use of bicycles, among others. Through these initiatives a sustainable culture can begin to form. Once the acquisition of knowledge is internalized, it is possible to think in bigger projects in which people value their proper operation.

Moreover, there are technical solutions that companies can apply to without having to engage in major projects for sustainable design and construction. For example, they can adjust their lighting systems, air conditioning and water. This can attack points that guarantee important savings and a quick return of investment.

What are the key positions in a company that should start with a sustainability plan?

All the positions/workers should be involved in a sustainability project; small and bigger practices add up and contributes to the whole plan. Therefore, it is essential that the board directors, Human Resources and Internal Communications supports the promotion of campaigns with their teams. Equally important, the Property Manager or maintenance personnel should work in partnership with administrative management to implement more robust sustainability projects.

Why should the Board of Directors give relevance to the environmental impacts that result from of all the companies’ activities?

Regardless of the size of a company, the directors are community leaders. It is not only employees, there are also suppliers, customers, investors, the family of each one of them, and so on. As leaders they should be aware that if we take care of the environment, we will have a better planet and greater comfort may be offered to each of those groups. The leader must inspire, train and set an example to guide the community that is part of the company.

In your experience, what do you think should be the biggest concern of the Board of Directors when it comes to investing in programs or sustainability plans?

Usually, it is the increase in initial deployment costs. In Colombia we have made progress, but we still have a long way to go. Unfortunately, we still find companies that do not see the value in starting sustainability plans. They have other priorities and still find as their main problem short term costs. But doing things right is not necessarily more expensive in the long term; these projects are highly profitable.

Juliana Fernandez - AEI Founding Partner.