No matter the size or scope of a company’s operations, we all use natural resources every day at work and at home. Whether it is electricity used for lighting up the workplace or powering equipment, water used in bottling plants on a production line or as cooling water in data centers, or materials used in manufacturing, food production, or the office space that leave behind waste, natural resources play a critical role in our day-to-day work.

As we celebrate Earth Day 2024, we want to take the time to acknowledge the importance and role of our world’s natural resources and how we can better manage and conserve them. We all have a role to play in natural resource management, and in this blog we will discuss the importance of conservation and what your company can do to promote awareness and better manage natural resources.

The State of Earth’s Natural Resources

Earth’s natural resources, including minerals, water, fuels, soils, plants, and animals, are finite, even those that are labeled as renewable. At our current consumption and waste generation rates, it is estimated that we would need approximately 1.82 planet Earths to meet our demand for resources and absorb the waste that we generate. From 1970 to 2000, we have consumed over a third of the Earth’s natural resources in just thirty years according to a study from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). There are currently significant resource scarcity challenges that may have global implications in the future with minerals, ores, fossil fuels, and biomass consumption tripling between 2013 and 2050. The Earth is unable to sustain our current consumption, and therefore conservation and circularity practices are essential to ensure that our natural resources are not depleted over the next century and can continue to sustain us as the earth has for millennia.

The Importance of Conservation

Why should businesses of all types care about conservation? The overconsumption of Earth’s resources poses several risks throughout various industries and business segments. A lack of material resources or ecosystem services in the future such as water or materials provided by plants, animals, and ores will cause business to cease production and or operations. Conservation should be a key concern to all for long-term business continuity.

In addition to sustaining resources for future use, implementing conservation and efficiency practices in our homes and in the workplace often reduces utility and operating costs through reduced spending on resources such as energy and water usage, less materials purchased, and waste generated. Unlike the projected effects of climate change, where we won’t see catastrophic impacts for decades, the water cycle and our available water resource have already been impacted by worsening droughts and outcomes of poor water resource management in prior decades. There are impacts affecting certain industries now, and expected to get worse in the next 5-7 years (within the  business planning horizons for most companies).

We also have historic examples of how material shortages have reshaped whole industries in the past  including aluminum shortage in World War I changing  the aircraft industry, rubber shortage in World War II spurring innovation in automotive industry, ivory and whalebone shortages changing a slew of material and textiles industries.

Resource Management and Reduction

You and your company can aid in resource conservation through the development of a resource management plan. The first step is to gather data and track your energy, water, materials, and waste streams. This requires installing proper metering to effectively track energy and water as well as a defined process for documenting all materials used and waste generated. Tracking this data will help you develop key performance indicators that can be used to set resource reduction goals. The next step is to implement resource reduction practices.

Below is a list of a few (of many) general best practices that can help your facility reduce its resource consumption, increase its efficiency, and save money.


Energy is a necessity to any business operation, especially as we increasingly rely on our digital infrastructure for everything from making coffee to taking phone calls.

  1. Install energy management and control systems in commercial and industrial facilities;
  2. Perform regular maintenance on equipment such as HVAC and boilers and create a maintenance plan;
  3. Check steam traps to ensure they are functioning properly;
  4. Only use compressed air where and when it is absolutely needed;
  5. Check for compressed air leaks;
  6. Fit motors with variable frequency drives (VFD);
  7. Maximize your boiler condensate return;
  8. Properly insulate all pipes transporting hot/cold air or water;
  9. Convert light fixtures and bulbs to LEDs;
  10. Participate in energy efficiency and conservation programs offered by utilities; and
  11. Replace old equipment with new energy efficient models.


Water is a key ingredient to our day-to-day life. Most businesses cannot stay open without a water supply, whether water is only used for sanitary needs, or is a primary ingredient in production.

  1. Perform regular maintenance on water systems and create a maintenance plan;
  2. Check for leaks in pipes and fixtures and implement a leak detection system;
  3. Install water meters to capture all uses of water;
  4. Install high-efficiency water fixtures (sinks, toilets, showers, etc.);
  5. Utilize drip irrigation systems and moisture sensors;
  6. Install rainwater harvesting systems;
  7. Reclaim and recycle treated wastewater for non-potable uses (e.g., irrigation, graywater, non-contact cooling, etc.);
  8. Close water loops to reduce/remove single time use; and
  9. Replace old equipment with new water efficient models.

Waste and Materials

Conserving materials is key to cost savings and minimizing waste, but did you know waste is also a resource?

  1. Eliminate or reduce the amount of byproduct that is being generated through changes in processes;
  2. Reuse materials on-site (polyol, pallets);
  3. Reuse materials externally (scrap leather);
  4. Recycle materials on-site (solvent distillation);
  5. Recycle materials off-site (metal, oil, electronics);
  6. Compost (on or off-site);
  7. Recover energy from materials/waste (incineration plants with energy recovery);
  8. Incinerate/treat wastes to destroy, detoxify, and/or neutralize wastes into less harmful substances (without energy recovery); and
  9. Secure land disposal should be used only as a last option. If this method is used, it should be ensured that wastes deposited on land use volume reduction, encapsulation, leachate containment, and monitoring and controlled air and surface/subsurface waste releases.

Supply Chain Awareness

There is only so much that one facility can do to reduce resource consumption, which makes collective action a critical component of resource management to improve resiliency for all. Each company’s supply chain and resource providers play a large role in resource management and conservation. Contact your suppliers and utility providers to determine how they can help you meet your resource reduction goals. For example, request they work on reducing the amount of single use packaging associated with their materials. Some suppliers may also be able to accept packaging materials back for reuse, such as pallets.

Earth Day, Every Day

Earth Day reminds us that we depend on the resources and natural processes our planet provides for us. While natural resource conservation is a major challenge that threatens our future, we have the chance and obligation to take collective action and step up as stewards for the Earth, its resources, and all life that depends on them. Your and your business’s actions and choices can have a measurable and significant impact, and it is important to take action now to secure our future.

Antea Group and our Facility Optimization and Waste and Materials Management services can help your company get started on developing a resource management plan for your facilities, or we can help to reduce your energy, waste, and water consumption through energy audits, waste minimization plans, and water efficiency assessments. Reach out to our Antea Group experts today!

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