As renewable energy technologies get better and cheaper, the concept of achieving net zero energy – and lasting value – is getting noticed by building owners and developers. Our clients want to know how a building can produce its own energy through on-site renewables, and we want them to know that the opportunity is greatest for companies that are already committed to using less energy.

Lasting value - net zero energy

Say it with me, wasting energy is a terrible business strategy, and businesses can make upfront investments in smarter energy management quickly – for long-term benefits.

There are very good reasons to produce energy from renewable sources, and here are my favorites:

  1. You’ll spend less on operating costs when you have to pay utilities less for power.
  2. Your properties (and therefore your business) will be more resilient to climate events like hurricanes and earthquakes if you produce your own off-grid energy.
  3. People – including investors – prefer sustainable businesses. Investors recognize that sustainable businesses usually correlate with profitable operations.

Further, companies that invest in renewable energy have a much stronger result when it’s in conjunction with a highly sustainable building design. We encourage clients to focus on sustainability investments with lasting value and ROI. When the design and base spend are created to handle unforeseen issues from the climate, market, and workforce, the initial investment is protected.

You must understand the goal.

We have a service called Upshot™ that owners use during the value engineering process to make sure that the combination of sustainability strategies bring the most value for the project, based on what the client values most. Clients achieve net zero energy and water through a combination of tactics, and seeing how those tactics interplay is incredibly valuable to the process.

Some companies have an interest in going completely off-grid. There are strategies that we can bring to projects to make that possible, but the grid isn’t necessarily bad. Defecting from the grid reduces risk to the company by putting the owner in greater control of energy costs. Off-grid property owners can influence how their property and its users produce and consume energy. The more that companies take charge of their carbon footprint AND their relationships with energy providers, the better.

Most businesses think in terms of resilience to climate change, reduced carbon footprint, and other benefits of smart energy planning and management. Going net zero is generally part of a bigger organizational strategy. In addition to the benefits that renewable energy sources bring to the fight against climate change, it also evens out the supply and demand curves of many buildings, encouraging innovative technology and a better building performance.

There’s no one way to achieve optimum sustainability. Every program strategy must consider the local conditions, customs, and resources. The key is to understand what is available to you, and then use it to achieve measurable outcomes for your business, your neighbors, and the local ecology.

Here are some examples of how companies are using on-site renewable energy. Read, learn, then imagine something new for your buildings!

Read what I (and others) had to say about renewable energy at Entrepreneur magazine.

Tom Paladino

Tom Paladino is CEO and founder of Paladino and Company. 

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