Deconstructing Sustainability Myths

Myth: Sustainability costs too much money.

Reality:  Investing in sustainability is a smart move financially, socially, and environmentally to protect our planet now and in the future. By cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions, we’re making investments that will be beneficial for years to come. The good news is that sustainable solutions have the ability to be cost-effective, and we can use them in everything we do. The cost of NOT being sustainable is high and comes in many forms, affecting physical and mental health and placing financial burdens on our societies by way of climate risk, resiliency issues, insurance premiums and more.  Here’s what we can do: 

Myth:  Solar Panels are Expensive and Only Work in Sunny, Southern States

Reality:  Solar power has become more affordable.  In fact, it’s more cost effective to produce one megawatt-hour of clean electricity from solar than it is to produce one megawatt-hour of electricity from a coal plant.  In 2023, the U.S. added more solar capacity than ever before, at 32.4 Gigawatts, surpassing any other energy source. Plus, solar panels produce power in direct and indirect sunlight, so it works great in every U.S. state – even in cloudy states like Washington, who have over 600 Megawatts of solar installed.  When it comes to construction, new buildings are the perfect opportunity for roof-top solar installations, providing safe, reliable, and cost-effective clean energy on-site.   

Myth: Corporate sustainability efforts are limited to environmental concerns and do not impact overall business performance.

Reality: Sustainability initiatives can drive innovation, attract partners and clients, enhance employee morale and retention, and improve risk management strategies. Currently two-thirds of all Fortune 500 companies have a climate commitment in place. Alignment with top clientele is not only positive for the future of the planet but also for the future of business. 

Myth: Decarbonization is only about saving energy.

Reality: Decarbonization is about more than just energy efficiency. It’s also about cutting down on carbon dioxide emissions by using eco-friendly materials, sustainable design practices, switching to electric power, and reducing emissions from construction sites. It is also important to consider the emissions associated with operating a business. This includes energy used in offices, fuels used for vehicles and for business travel, waste generated in offices, and the materials and equipment purchased. 

Myth:  Using Low-Carbon Concrete will Delay a Construction Project

Reality: It’s common to think that incorporating low-carbon concrete could slow down your project’s timeline. While it’s true that some materials used to make concrete greener can take longer to set, there’s a way to find the right balance between time, cost, durability, and sustainability.  Here’s what to consider:

Myth:  Minimizing diesel usage for temporary power and light during construction projects won’t make a big difference in reducing overall emissions.  

Reality: If 100 construction job-sites used one Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) for temporary construction power and one solar light tower for temporary construction lighting, it would eliminate almost 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.  That’s the equivalent of eliminating a six-inch-thick blanket of heat trapping carbon dioxide covering over five 5 square miles per year. Imagine if every project used multiple battery storage systems and solar light towers for the next 10 years, and what it would look like if every contractor did the same thing. Even small changes can add up to big results for the planet.