Introduction: Sustainability in Alabama
Sustainability, or sustainable development, as defined in the Brundtland Report, is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This rather broad definition of sustainability is typically broken down into three main areas of focus: environment, economy, and society. The goal of the Eco Three Sustainability Report is to provide our clients and the general public with accessible information regarding the sustainable development of the company. In this modern age of corporate responsibility, the focus of this report will be to illustrate with crystal clear transparency all of the ways Eco Three is doing its part to be a steward for energy efficiency and sustainability, a contributing member of the community, and an economically viable business.
The Eco Three Vision
When the founding partners of Eco Three decided to form the business back in 2010, they wanted to start a company that relieved homeowners from the burden of high utility bills and uncomfortable living spaces. They may not have known it quite yet, but they were joining the green movement and created a business with sustainability ingrained in its DNA. Over the course of a few years, the company has grown and developed into a successful sustainable operation, with a balanced focus on sound economics, environmental awareness, and social responsibility.
Today, Eco Three is comprised of energy efficiency experts, whose goal is to make homes more energy efficient, safer, comfortable, and less expensive to operate. The company is able to achieve this by performing whole home energy and comfort evaluations, then providing their clients with customized reports outlining the most cost effective upgrades the homeowner can do to reduce utility bills, increase comfort, improve indoor air quality, and make the home safer to live in. The recommended upgrades the company prioritizes typically have a payback period of less than five years, making the work very affordable and cost effective for the lifetime of the home. Eco Three is also very active in the community, building strategic partnerships and alliances with all different types of groups and organizations to build stronger, more resilient communities.
At its core, Eco Three is an environmentally sustainable company purely based on how it operates. From the type of work the company does, to the products it uses, to its transportation, to its policies, Eco Three is keenly aware of its environmental impact and what it can do to reduce that impact. The company is constantly analyzing all aspects of the business to make sure that the most effective and sustainable practices are being applied.
Since the company’s primary focus is on making homes more energy efficient, a direct correlation exists between Eco Three and environmental sustainability. By creating more efficient homes, Eco Three’s customers should be running their HVAC system less frequently, which in turn uses less power and/or fuel. That leads to less consumption of fossil fuels to produce that power, which results in a smaller carbon footprint.
According to numbers based on historical data from the Nexus Energy Center, Eco Three is saving its clients an average of 31% on their utility bills. That means that our customers are using 31% less power to heat and cool their homes, which translates into 31% less power and fuel usage and a 31% reduction in energy/utility bills. By making homes more efficient, Eco Three is doing its part to help conserve our precious natural resources.
Eco Three is proud to have affiliations with a number of different organizations that are making huge differences in our community and around the world. Eco Three employees are certified by the Building Performance Institute, the industry leader in home energy performance. BPI sets industry standards for energy efficient retrofit work and supplies credentials for individuals in the building performance sector. BPI’s partnership with Energy Star for Homes is another beneficial partnership for the company. Eco Three also has an employee who is a a LEED Green Associate and member of the Alabama Chapter of the US Green Building Council , whose mission is “To transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, enabling a socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life in Alabama.”
As a leader in energy efficiency and conservation, Eco Three chooses to use a product line that is certified by GREENGUARD. GREENGUARD Certification is part of UL Environment, a business unit of UL (Underwriters Laboratories). GREENGUARD Certification helps manufacturers create and buyers identify interior products and materials that have low chemical emissions, improving the quality of the air in which the products are used. UL Environment acquired GREENGUARD in 2011, further advancing its mission of promoting global sustainability, environmental health, and safety.
Another way Eco Three enhances its environmental sustainability is by implementing certain policies in the workplace and on the jobsite. The company uses a tablet to display their customized reports and recommendations to their clients, thereby eliminating the need to print the reports on paper. Also, by emailing those same reports to clients following a consultation, Eco Three is empowering their clients to go paperless as well. Test-out data gathered at the jobsite is also either emailed or texted to the office, which also eliminates the need for paper and unnecessary waste. Eco Three also played an integral role in reviving the recycling program at their previous office building, which has a number of environmental benefits.
The second pillar of sustainability relates to sustainable economics. In simple terms, this means that sustainable development must be economically viable, and any process or service must be designed in a way that allows for monetary prosperity for the future. After all, if a business or group cannot be fiscally self-sufficient, then it is destined for failure. With that concept in mind, Eco Three has set itself up as an economically sustainable company by putting the necessary pieces in place to perfectly complement its important environmentally sustainable work.
The Eco Three model is simple: offer customers the most affordable, cost-effective recommendations that will result in the biggest gains in comfort and efficiency with the quickest payback. By streamlining the home energy evaluation, Eco Three makes their services affordable and attractive to homeowners, and by recommending upgrades with the quickest and most efficient paybacks, the demand will continue to grow. As more and more people become educated and interested in energy efficiency, the market will continue to grow, putting Eco Three in a pivotal position as an industry leader and innovator in the community.
Eco Three began at the Innovation Depot, which is a technology center and small business incubator affiliated with the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The resources available at the Innovation Depot have laid a solid foundation for Eco Three to grow and develop. They now have an office in Vestavia Hills.
Partnerships / Affiliations
Eco Three continuously forms very valuable partnerships and affiliations that have helped keep it an economically sustainable business. By partnering with utility giants Alabama Power and Spire, Eco Three has the support of two major players in the economic ecosystem of Alabama. These partnerships help increase visibility, provide stability, and also give customers alternate financing options that may enable them to use the company’s services. Eco Three is also affiliated with several business organizations in the community, including the Better Business Bureau of Central and South Alabama, with which it maintains an A+ rating. The company is active with the Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders, the Birmingham Business Alliance, Vestavia Hills Chamber Of Commerce, and the Birmingham Business Journal. In fact, the BBJ named Eco Three one of the fastest growing companies of 2013 as part of the FastTrack 30, and the Founder/President Jonathan Handey was named to the BBJ’s Top 40 Under 40 Class of 2015. The company has also utilized a grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to have its employees certified by BPI. The grant approval shows that the state recognizes the viability of this industry and that it is ready to invest in it and support its growth.
Investing in the Future
Being economically sustainable not only means making sure everything is fiscally sound presently, but it also means setting a course for success down the road—and that’s exactly what Eco Three is doing. In September 2015, Eco Three Gulf Coast opens to provide services to Mobile and Baldwin Counties in Alabama including Fairhope, Mobile, Daphne, Orange Beach and surrounding areas. The company has plans for further expansion down the road with the hopes of offering affordable, energy efficient upgrades to a wider array of people. Eco Three is also continually investing in its employees with updated certifications, training and education, and new equipment to make sure that the company stays on the cutting edge of the industry.
Eco Three Innovations
Adaptation, resilience, and evolution are all key factors of sustainability, even from an economic standpoint. With that in mind, and with the goal of staying at the forefront of the market, a segment of the business is focused more on new home construction. They cater to the needs of builders, designers, and subcontractors by offering a variety of services such as energy modeling and code compliance, construction inspections and consulting, and post construction test-outs and certifications. By integrating the same Eco Three comfort and efficiency model from the existing residential market, the company hopes to corner a large part of the new home construction market. And because newer residential and energy codes are requiring more from builders, the economic potential for sustainable growth is tremendous.
The third domain of sustainable development addresses the societal implications of what people and organizations are doing today to promote social well-being now and in the future. Eco Three has an inherent social impact with the work it does, both in the industry and with the organizations it promotes and supports.
Eco Three is helping to satisfy social needs with the work we do in the residential market. By making homes more energy efficient, Eco Three is creating more comfortable and safer homes, which leads to healthier families, and healthier families make healthier communities.
Public education and awareness is also a big part of what Eco Three does for the community and society in general. Mr. Handey is a member of the Joint Legislative Committee on Energy and serves on the Efficiency and Conservation Sub-Committee for the Alabama legislature. Eco Three has also had speaking engagements at various conferences and group meetings like the ABLE Conference (Alabama Better Living Expo), Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, New Horizons (UAB), and Optimist International, just to name a few.
Partnerships / Affiliations
Eco Three is also very proud to be a part of a number of different charitable organizations that help out the less fortunate in our community. The company supports and has direct involvement with groups like the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Arc of Jefferson County, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Camp Fire, and Camp Smile-a-Mile.
As a whole, Eco Three is committed to the concepts of sustainable development by continuing to find ways to conserve natural resources, make the business more profitable for the future, and build stronger communities. With a willingness to stay on the cutting edge of technology, innovation, education, and leadership, Eco Three is poised to keep its footing in the residential energy sector for a long time to come. The foundation has been laid, and the necessary steps are being taken today to ensure that Eco Three is a major player in the home energy efficiency field for years to come.