Is There a Business Case for Sustainability?

“Do manufacturers engage in sustainable practices for the right reasons or because they think it’s what the architect wants?” This was the question posed by an emerging professional to the construction industry who works as a specification writer for an independent consulting firm. Like most things, the answer is nuanced and likely lies somewhere in the middle.

In an ideal world, the best business decisions would align with the best environmental outcomes. However, will a building owner pay a product manufacturer more if that manufacturer switched to 100% green electricity at twice the cost? So, we're not talking about surface-level changes like recycled paper in the copiers, CFL light bulbs or bike racks in the parking lot. 

Like many manufacturers, we see the challenges first-hand with the research and execution of sustainability initiatives. LEED, The Living Building Challenge and other green building standards all require a level of knowledge, cost, time and expertise to navigate. With that comes the bottom line question, “What is the return when there is additional expense?” Many times, it’s hard to quantify.

We were the first steel framing company with Environmental Product Declarations and Health Product Declarations, putting an added layer of transparency to how our products are produced and their environmental impact. We will continue to invest the time and resources to be the best stewards we can to our environment in a thoughtful way. 

Many elements of sustainability are already second nature.  For instance, we have recycled 100% of our production scrap for decades. Other elements of our business processes are tightly intertwined with green thinking to the point the outcomes are good business decisions that are sustainable rather than just sustainable decisions.