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Should going green be incentivised?

Saying that it should be, Marcos Bish of Summertown Interiors talks about what can entice private companies to adopt sustainable measures.

| | Mar 2, 2017 | 1:20 pm
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Do companies in the private sector truly realise the value of going green, or do they see it as nothing more than a marketing strategy, a plaque to be displayed on the wall? This was a question put forward during a roundtable discussion attended by representatives from the construction and sustainability sectors, which took place in November at the offices of Summertown Interiors in Dubai, UAE.

Responding to the question, Summertown’s Managing Director, Marcos Bish, made the observation that while there are, indeed, businesses that view sustainability as a marketing ploy and, thus, resist adopting green practices, it’s a viewpoint that stems from a simple lack of awareness of the benefits of going green, and one that can be changed. How? By showing them how it can positively affect their bottom line.

Marcos Bish

“I deal a lot with the private sector, during which we talk about sustainability and the environment,” he said. “I have to say that the awareness level is low. Companies see it as an additional expense to their businesses, and there are some that still talk about sustainability only in terms of the environment – the polar bears and the trees. Obviously, it’s our job to explain to clients that sustainability is more than that.”

In the years of him doing his job, as he put it, Bish shared that he’s had to change the way he engages with clients to make sure that his message was getting across. He explained: “You can’t just keep on talking about the benefits of sustainability to the economy, for instance. You have to demonstrate that sustainability can help them within their own organisation, that it can help them reduce their operational costs.”

Speaking with Climate Control Middle East after the event, Bish talked about how his own company has benefitted from going green. The LEED EBOM-certified Summertown headquarters, said Bish, boasts systems and solutions – including VAV switches, CO2 sensors, filters, low-VOC materials and glass with heat reflectance – that not only ensure controlled energy consumption but also the kind of healthy working environment that boosts employee productivity and performance.

He also pointed out that to raise private sector awareness about – and interest in – sustainability, the government ought to look into regulations and incentives. “It’s like with health and safety,” he said. “Do we do it voluntarily? Yes, but at the same time, there should be minimum standards; otherwise, we would have more accidents at construction sites. So, I do believe the government should bring in regulations on minimum green standards. But what the government can also do is offer incentives. If you are a green organisation, why do you pay the full licence fee? Maybe the government could say, ‘If you are a good corporate citizen, you will get rewarded. Maybe we will allow you on our tenders and not allow others. Maybe you don’t have to pay the full licence fee’.”

[The writer is the Assistant Editor of Climate Control Middle East.]

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