The last 50 years in the U.S. have shaped what businesses can expect from sustainability in the future. Major movements include:

  • Awareness—This phase began in the 1960s with the first major environmental legislation, the definition of “sustainability” and ended in the 1990s with the identification of structures like the “triple bottom line” and LEED program for buildings. It centered around identifying the need for sustainable practices and created early structure and tools to measure and implement progress. This phase was a “wake up call” for society, in general.
  • Solutions—The second significant megatrend of sustainability shifted focus to solutions that made financial sense for business implementation. Businesses and communities created new technologies and models that reduce operational costs and provide new investment opportunities to become sustainable. This movement focused on structures like facilities, buildings and homes.
  • Well-Being—The phase we began a few years ago includes a shift in focus to well-being. Some countries are passing legislation such as the “Social Value Act” in the UK, companies like Google ensure employees take breaks, exercise, and have napping space available to improve wellness, and even a new Well Building Standard has been developed focusing on health and productivity. Standards for waste, water, energy and safety will continue trending to “Net Zero” where 100% of employees go home safe, 100% of water and waste is recycled, and 100% of energy is offset via regional or local renewable production. This phase shifts to focus on the people within facilities, buildings and homes.

These trends are important to recognize as MultiFamily owners, managers and residents will face changing expectations and pressures. Our article will briefly discuss each trend, give examples of how Balfour Beatty Communities has participated in each, and project what companies need to know to shape their own smart business of the future.