Although making better, environmentally sustainable decisions on how we use resources is good, it is the subsequent follow-through, however, that is most critical. As environmentally sound practices prove economically feasible and even advantageous, they will become increasingly followed. Education is key. Understanding the benefits of sustainable business models is what will lead to adoption. The preservation, recycle, and reuse of materials is resulting in saved money, healthier people, and better-managed resources.
Until recently, the manufacturing sector has become increasingly aware of the need for sustainability and has sought to implement it through practices based on a linear model called “cradle-to-grave” sustainability.
Definition of Cradle-to-Grave Sustainability
The Cradle to Grave sustainability model (C2G)—also known as the linear economy—follows the “take, make, use and dispose of” process. This involves the discarding of materials after they have served their purpose. The problem is that a typical Cradle to Grave/Linear economy model leads to the waste of already limited resources and produces a high amount of greenhouse gas emissions.
Forward-Thinking Manufacturers Solved This Waste Problem
Efforts to better manage materials and processes that impact the environment benefit businesses, consumers, and the planet. Long before the sustainability movement was popular, Gridd® Raised Flooring was developed to eliminate the waste of materials, money, and much more importantly—time. The time of different construction teams—often on the weekends—was once notoriously wasted. This was due to traditional construction methods and product architectures that were not designed for change. That problem sparked a desire to simplify the raised floor paradigm and Gridd was born.
Today, the general public is awakening to the importance of green practices and is holding businesses accountable. Businesses are embracing responsibility for products and the impact they have on people and the environment. This growing awareness is paving the way for meaningful development of practices that are better, safer, and offer greater long-term rewards.
Continuous improvement is the idea behind organizations like LEED. This approach is one reason why environmentally responsible companies feel it’s important to invest upfront in the development of better systems, products, and work models.
The Growing Public Concern Over Sustainability
Consumers are more aware than ever about preserving the environment and are looking for ways to support this practice. Some consumers see themselves alone as having little power by themselves to effect significant change, however, there is power in numbers. Many of those same consumers perceive businesses as better able to make real impacts by eliminating waste and preserving materials for reuse or recycling.
Those businesses demonstrating alignment of corporate goals with the concerns of customers are better able to expand their base while deepening loyalties.
The Definition of Sustainability
Distilled to its plainest definition, sustainability is about the most efficient use of current resources with specific plans for the replacement or replenishment of those resources. Not only are current demands being satisfied, but also the interests of the future—near and long term. Three factors play into and impact sustainability:
- People – this is the social facet of sustainability; we need to serve the public, fulfill their needs, and satisfy their desires
- Planet – this is the environmental facet of sustainability, which has been too long overlooked but is now getting more attention
- Profits – the economic facet of sustainability, it is the driving purpose behind every business, but cannot outweigh the other two facets
To ensure that a product is sustainable, manufacturers must evaluate the impact it has on the environment, beginning with the manufacturing process and following all the way through to the end of its use cycle. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is one tool used to measure the energy and materials involved in the manufacturing of the product, and the impact such use has on the environment.
Once this initial information is compiled, research is performed to ascertain if and how improvements could be made in the manufacturing process to increase the overall sustainability of the end product.
The Cradle-to-Grave Sustainability Model: A Quick Primer
Of the many standards used today to measure successful environmental practice, the C2G model has been a “go-to” for achieving a limited measure of sustainability within the life cycle of a product or building.
The problem with C2G is that the benefits at the end-of-life (EOL) phase of this model are limited. Recycling can consume energy and produce emissions, offsetting the potential gains. Some industry leaders looked for a more effective solution.
The Cradle-to-Cradle Environmental Sustainability Counterpart: Another Fast Primer
A newer, more expansive sustainability concept has resulted and is growing in popularity—the cradle-to-cradle (C2C) sustainability model.
The Cradle to Cradle sustainability model—also known as the circular economy—is the process of the take, make, use, and then, most importantly, reusing a product, building or other components in the economy.
It is the added step of finding a way to reuse an item that propels the economy forward. This reusability is built into its design. Its primary focus is to eliminate waste as much as possible and to maximize sustainability. Its ideology involves looking at waste as a resource rather than a liability.
This takes sustainability one step further in its commitment to a healthier, flourishing planet in the future.
Reusable components, in-house installation, fully integrated power, and a mobile application to support its management going forward, all point to significant savings of time and budget when major renovations are required. In the manufacture, installation, and throughout the life cycle of the product, Gridd has no emissions and that stays true throughout the lifecycle of the building.
Investment in The Future: The Gold Standard in Green Technology and Sustainability
When it comes to improving the overall eco-profile of a business, it may be tempting to see how to save some nickels and dimes by reducing paper usage and more effective energy management. These short-term and one-off cost cuts are great, but opting for solutions that address long-term benefits is much more forward-thinking.
The most sustainable products are better able to evolve with future demands while reducing the maintenance costs of your building.
Cutting expenses can boost current bottom lines, but cannot compare to an intelligent investment in an asset offering endless returns for the life of your building, and not only boosting the value of your structure but also eliminating future flooring costs an owner typically faces as a building ages.
FreeAxez: Supporting Long-Term Sustainability
Thanks to the enduring quality of materials coupled with the infinite variety of configurations possible, GRIDD raised flooring also meets the enviable C2C sustainability standard. The simple truth is that GRIDD raised flooring has been designed to serve generation after generation, so perhaps it is also the first C2C2C (cradle-to-cradle-to-cradle) model available to the marketplace today.
FreeAxez supports helping the business environment evolve to embrace and appreciate sustainable lifestyles. When products meet the gold standards of C2C practices, they help forge a healthier, wealthier future for the planet and its many inhabitants.