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Environmental Impacts

This incubator’s construction (main facility, if more than one) is based on an energy-efficient design. [View]

This incubator has identified facility investments and process changes that can save the incubator money in the long term and reduce adverse environmental impacts. [View]

This incubator takes full advantage of recycling opportunities, encourages its clients to do the same and otherwise models positive environmental stewardship. [View]

 

This incubator’s construction (main facility, if more than one) is based on an energy-efficient design.

Making a business incubation facility more environmentally friendly is not a fad. Sustainable building practices are increasingly the norm, says Bert Gregory, FAIA, president and CEO of Mithun, a Seattle-based architecture firm that specializes in green design. “We are truly in the next industrial revolution,” he says. “I’ve been doing [green design] for a long time, and I’ve seen more change in the last six months than I have seen in the last 16 years.”

When NBIA asked incubator managers what they’re doing to green up their facilities, we found that there is a wide continuum of options available, from cheap-and-simple to significant investments in green technologies. Not surprisingly, incubators in the first category tend to be operating programs that aren’t looking to make major renovations.

Programs still in development are more likely to be the ones embracing environmentalism wholeheartedly. In part, that’s because they’re either building from scratch or renovating an existing facility, and thus are at a stage when they can plan for green features, instead of attempting a retrofit. But that fact also reflects new funding realities: According to the U.S Green Building Council, 13 U.S. federal agencies, 27 states and 103 counties or municipalities now require construction projects they fund to adhere to some level of green building practices.

Most use USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, a voluntary program, as a benchmark. The program awards points to construction projects in five categories: Sustainable Sites, Energy and Atmosphere, Water Efficiency, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Materials and Resources. The number of points earned depends on the project’s actions (e.g., the percentage of construction waste that is recycled) and its choices in products (e.g., use of low-odor paints and carpets). Depending on a project’s overall score, it can be LEED Certified (the basic designation) or receive LEED Silver, Gold or Platinum designations.

Incubators and green buildings go hand-in-hand, managers say, because efficiency is important to sustainability. “We’ve been designing efficiently so we can have the most leasable [client] space,” says Jeff Corcoran, director of the SUNY Fredonia High Technology Incubator now under development in Dunkirk, N.Y. “You don’t [want] to have large open expanses that are very wasteful of energy.”

There is little about an incubator facility that would make green building particularly difficult. Electrical capacity is an example; if your program wants to go solar, make sure you can generate enough power for clients who may have higher demands. But in general, “there are a lot of choices out there” for building green, says Carol Lauffer, principal with Business Cluster Development in Palo Alto, Calif., who recently developed a business plan for a LEED Platinum incubator project in Washington.

No matter the size of your green goals, expert advice is a must. If your project seeks a LEED designation, you will definitely want help from someone who has experience with LEED projects. “[LEED requirements] are not kid stuff — it’s not just putting in an energy-efficient HVAC unit,” Corcoran says. LEED requirements run the gamut from how many trees are bulldozed in site preparation and how your contractor handles construction waste to whether you get feedback from residents about comfort and quality after the building opens. To help projects navigate the daunting process, USGBC has trained more than 40,000 LEED Accredited Professionals since 2001. While many of those are independent consultants, increasing numbers work for architects, design firms, contractors or government agencies.

If LEED certification is too ambitious, but you still want to make major investment in green technologies, try to find an architect or consultant with experience in green building who knows about the range of choices available in green technologies. “It’s a growing field, so there are more and more products coming on the market,” Lauffer says.

Adapted from Colbert, Corinne, “Going Green: How incubators are implementing sustainable building practices,” NBIA Review, February 2008. This article is available free to members in the NBIA Archives or as a PDF Quick Reference document from the NBIA Bookstore ($5/members; $10/nonmembers).

For further information on green workplaces, see:


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This incubator has identified facility investments and process changes that can save the incubator money in the long term and reduce adverse environmental impacts.

There is a wide continuum of options available to reduce a facility's environmental impact, from cheap-and-simple to significant investments in green technologies. Not surprisingly, incubators in the first category tend to be operating programs that aren’t looking to make major renovations.

Programs still in development are more likely to be the ones embracing environmentalism wholeheartedly. In part, that’s because they’re either building from scratch or renovating an existing facility, and thus are at a stage when they can plan for green features, instead of attempting a retrofit. But that fact also reflects new funding realities: According to the U.S Green Building Council, 13 U.S. federal agencies, 27 states and 103 counties or municipalities now require construction projects they fund to adhere to some level of green building practices.

Most use USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, a voluntary program, as a benchmark. The program awards points to construction projects in five categories: Sustainable Sites, Energy and Atmosphere, Water Efficiency, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Materials and Resources. The number of points earned depends on the project’s actions (e.g., the percentage of construction waste that is recycled) and its choices in products (e.g., use of low-odor paints and carpets). Depending on a project’s overall score, it can be LEED Certified (the basic designation) or receive LEED Silver, Gold or Platinum designations.

Incubators and green buildings go hand-in-hand, managers say, because efficiency is important to sustainability. “We’ve been designing efficiently so we can have the most leasable [client] space,” says Jeff Corcoran, director of the SUNY Fredonia High Technology Incubator now under development in Dunkirk, N.Y. “You don’t [want] to have large open expanses that are very wasteful of energy.”

There is little about an incubator facility that would make green building particularly difficult. Electrical capacity is an example; if your program wants to go solar, make sure you can generate enough power for clients who may have higher demands. But in general, “there are a lot of choices out there” for building green, says Carol Lauffer, principal with Business Cluster Development in Palo Alto, Calif., who recently developed a business plan for a LEED Platinum incubator project in Washington.

If you haven’t made green efforts yet, don’t be surprised if your clients start asking about it. Many of Mark Long’s initiatives at the Indiana University Emerging Technology Center, from the recycling program to converting fixtures to fluorescents, came from client requests. “We didn’t know it was that big a deal to them, but they said, ‘Yes, it is,’” says Long, former incubator director. “People don’t want to look like they’re not doing their part.”

For his part, Long was less interested in green for green’s sake than in the bottom line. So while he didn’t rip out perfectly good faucets to install low-flow models, he did choose water-saving toilets when the incubator replaced those fixtures several years ago. “It only cost $20 more per fixture, and I knew I would save that much or more over the next five to 10 years,” he says. “It makes [clients] feel that I am conscious of trying to keep costs down so their rent and service fees are as far down as possible.”

Excerpted from Colbert, Corinne, “Going Green: How incubation programs are implementing sustainable building practices,“ NBIA Review, February 2008. This article is available free to members in the NBIA Archives or as a PDF Quick Reference document from the NBIA Bookstore ($5/members; $10/nonmembers).

Reducing your facility's environmental impact doesn't have to cost a lot of money or involve major renovations. The investment of time and money may even pay off in reduced utility bills and increased interest among potential clients. Here are some simple ways to get green:

  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs
  • Retrofit T12 magnetic-ballast fluorescent fixtures for T8 lights with electronic ballasts
  • Install motion sensor lights in conference rooms and other areas used sporadically
  • Turn off lights, computers and other equipment when leaving
  • Set up a recycling program
  • Buy locally
  • Use less-toxic cleaning supplies
  • Ask your electrical utility for an energy audit (usually free)
  • Insulate loading docks and warehouses that are attached to the main building
  • Keep up with routine maintenance of HVAC and plumbing equipment
  • Install water-flow restrictors and aerators on faucet
  • Plant native species in landscaping
  • Offer preferred parking for carpoolers
  • Post/distribute public transportation schedules
  • Install bike racks and showers to encourage bicycle commuting

Adapted from Colbert, Corinne, “Going Green: How incubators are implementing sustainable building practices,” NBIA Review, February 2008. This article is available free to members in the iReview online archives or as a PDF Quick Reference document from the NBIA Bookstore ($5/members; $10/nonmembers).

For further information on green workplaces, see:

  • Esty, Daniel C. and Winston, Andrew S. Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage, Yale University Press, 2006. (Available from the NBIA Bookstore.)
  • Commuter Choice
    General advice for alternative transportation methods, as well as specific information for 18 U.S. cities
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy
    Energy Star
    Lists of products rated for energy efficiency, plus strategies and tools to improve facility energy efficiency
  • GreenBiz
    News, research, tools and how-tos for greener business
  • U.S. Department of Energy
    Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
    Includes calculators to estimate savings from energy-efficient HVAC systems, appliances and water technologies
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Myriad resources for environmentally friendly workplaces and meetings, plus links to voluntary federal and state environmental initiatives
  • U.S. Green Building Council
    Information on LEED certification and green building

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This incubator takes full advantage of recycling opportunities, encourages its clients to do the same and otherwise models positive environmental stewardship.

If you haven’t made green efforts at your business incubator yet, don’t be surprised if your clients start asking about it. Many of Mark Long’s initiatives at the Indiana University Emerging Technology Center, from the recycling program to converting fixtures to fluorescents, came from client requests. “We didn’t know it was that big a deal to them, but they said, ‘Yes, it is,’” says Long, former incubator director. “People don’t want to look like they’re not doing their part.”

For his part, Long was less interested in green for green’s sake than in the bottom line. So while he didn’t rip out perfectly good faucets to install low-flow models, he did choose water-saving toilets when the incubator replaced those fixtures several years ago. “It only cost $20 more per fixture, and I knew I would save that much or more over the next five to 10 years,” he says. “It makes [clients] feel that I am conscious of trying to keep costs down so their rent and service fees are as far down as possible.”

Simple ways to get green:

  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs
  • Retrofit T12 magnetic-ballast fluorescent fixtures for T8 lights with electronic ballasts
  • Install motion sensor lights in conference rooms and other areas used sporadically
  • Turn off lights, computers and other equipment when leaving
  • Set up a recycling program
  • Buy locally
  • Use less-toxic cleaning supplies
  • Ask your electrical utility for an energy audit (usually free)
  • Insulate loading docks and warehouses that are attached to the main building
  • Keep up with routine maintenance of HVAC and plumbing equipment
  • Install water-flow restrictors and aerators on faucets
  • Plant native species in landscaping
  • Offer preferred parking for carpoolers
  • Post/distribute public transportation schedules
  • Install bike racks and showers to encourage bicycle commuting
Adapted from Colbert, Corinne, “Going Green: How incubators are implementing sustainable building practices,” NBIA Review, February 2008. This article is available free to members in the iReview online archives or as a PDF Quick Reference document from the NBIA Bookstore ($5/members; $10/nonmembers).

Recycling is a series of activities that includes collecting recyclable materials that would otherwise be considered waste, sorting and processing recyclables into raw materials such as fibers, and manufacturing raw materials into new products.

Step 1. Collection and Processing
Collecting recyclables varies from community to community, but there are four primary methods: curbside, drop-off centers, buy-back centers, and deposit/refund programs.
Regardless of the method used to collect the recyclables, the next leg of their journey is usually the same. Recyclables are sent to a materials recovery facility to be sorted and prepared into marketable commodities for manufacturing. Recyclables are bought and sold just like any other commodity, and prices for the materials change and fluctuate with the market.

Step 2. Manufacturing
Once cleaned and separated, the recyclables are ready to undergo the second part of the recycling loop. More and more of today's products are being manufactured with total or partial recycled content. Common household items that contain recycled materials include newspapers and paper towels; aluminum, plastic and glass soft drink containers; steel cans; and plastic laundry detergent bottles. Recycled materials also are used in innovative applications such as recovered glass in roadway asphalt (glassphalt) or recovered plastic in carpeting, park benches, and pedestrian bridges.

Step 3. Purchasing Recycled Products
Purchasing recycled products completes the recycling loop. By "buying recycled," governments, as well as businesses and individual consumers, play an important role in making the recycling process a success. As consumers demand more environmentally sound products, manufacturers will continue to meet that demand by producing high-quality recycled products.

This overview is excerpted from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Web site at www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/rrr/recycle.htm. DOE provides many articles and other useful information on recycling. This site was accessed Aug. 26, 2008.

There are many government and private resources available to help you create a greener workplace, including:

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy
    Energy Star
    Lists of products rated for energy efficiency, plus strategies and tools to improve facility energy efficiency
  • GreenBiz
    News, research, tools and how-tos for greener business
  • U.S. Department of Energy
    Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
    Includes calculators to estimate savings from energy-efficient HVAC systems, appliances and water technologies
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Myriad resources for environmentally friendly workplaces and meetings, plus links to voluntary federal and state environmental initiatives
  • U.S. Green Building Council
    Information on LEED certification and green building

Excerpted from Colbert, Corinne, “Going green: How incubation programs are implementing sustainable building practices,“ NBIA Review, February 2008. This article is available free to members in the NBIA Archives or as a PDF Quick Reference document from the NBIA Bookstore ($5/members; $10/nonmembers).

For further information on reducing adverse environmental impacts, see:

  • Esty, Daniel C. and Winston, Andrew S. Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage, Yale University Press, 2006. (Available from the NBIA Bookstore.)


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