As a green building consultant, one of the biggest fundamental flaws I hear in the green building discussion is that green building costs more and is less profitable. Our goal is to help you design profitable AND green projects. Yes, you can be profitable and green at the same time, they are not mutually exclusive.
That said, one question still baffles developers: what is sustainable planning and development? What does sustainable development mean? Why are we concerned about issues such as climate change, environmental pollution and energy shortage? Why is everyone talking about sustainable development? Is sustainability advice just the latest buzzword? Is it just fashionable to pretend to be green and plant trees and switch to CFLs to prove it?
Al Gore says: “There is a growing sense that we are reaching the limits of Earth’s ability to support our civilization. This is popular opinion and the answer to all of these questions is an obvious “no”. The earth’s climate is being adversely affected, and accelerating economic development undoubtedly leaves little for our future generations. The threat to our environment is real, clear and almost there. How to minimize the damage? Leave a healthier earth for our future generations? The answer lies in sustainable planning and development.
How do we define it? The US Department of Energy defines sustainable development as follows: “Sustainable development is a strategy by which communities seek approaches to economic development that also benefit the local environment and quality of life.”
Christine Ervin, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Energy for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, defines sustainable development as follows: “Sustainable development allows economic progress and environmental quality to be compatible objectives “Communities find that sustainability strategies save taxpayers money, improve profits for local businesses, and make the community more livable.”
When Thomas Jefferson in 1789 made the following statement, he may not have been talking about sustainable development as the term is used today, but there was a definite vision of what the future might look like if the mankind refused to be careful with nature’s gifts, “So I say the earth belongs to every…generation during its course, fully and by right, no generation can incur debts greater than those which can be paid for during its own existence.”
Robert Gilaman, president of the Context Institute, defines sustainability as “sustainability refers to the ability of a society, ecosystem, or any ongoing system to continue functioning into the indefinite future without being forced into decline by ‘depletion… of key resources’.
The answer must start at the “micro level”, with us using the spoils of nature to gradually urbanise. The solution to the problem must begin with how we ‘build’, ‘create’ and ‘reshape’ our cities and homes. Green development initiatives are the first level solutions for sustainable development.
Solutions for sustainable development are needed and they must be pervasive, long-term policies involving governments, societies and peoples. But before we start talking about the benefits of sustainability, let’s take a closer look: “How do we define sustainability?
There are many definitions but the most widely accepted definition of sustainable development is “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs”. On a lighter and anonymous note, sustainable development is “Growth without fooling our children”.
The definition of sustainable development may differ according to geographical areas, cultures and countries. Ultimately, however, it is a process that requires holistic participation at the individual level. The individual contribution is important because it forms the basis of the “three pillars of sustainable development” – economic, environmental and social.
The “social” pillar of people interacts with the other two – environmental and economic and, in this sense, feeds into the concept of sustainable development.
Since we use the environment for social and economic purposes, it is up to us to decide whether the current trade-off between “environment” and “economy” is beneficial to us in the long term. We can continue to use wood to build our homes and destroy all of our forests or choose healthier alternatives that help the economy grow and keep our planet safe and secure for our future generations to build their homes. In this sense, the “persons” form the pivot of the whole. So, by definition, you and me, the single-family home – owner, builder or real estate developer are part of the fundamental principles of sustainable development – people, planet, profits.
So what steps can you take as a builder or owner to ensure sustainable real estate development? You can do a lot. Changing a bulb to CFL may not be the complete solution, but it is a sure first step towards it. As a homeowner, you can research sustainability topics online and explore the various choices you can make for a greener home. Informative sustainability articles abound on the web and you can learn a lot about how to make more environmentally sound choices for that new home you’re considering building or that renovation job you have in mind on your home. vacation.
However, greater responsibility rests on the shoulders of the developer community, because if we build it “green” from scratch, we have a stronger impact. Contrary to popular belief, the role of private sector developers in sustainable real estate development is key and much more profitable. Building “green” makes sense and pays off. Additionally, sustainable property development has a thumbs-up from the government – “In the not-too-distant future, all developments will be green. Developers, builders and buyers will find that going green not only improves their wallets, but also their health. and the quality of their lives. Developers who grasp this first will have an edge in a massive, emerging market…” – William S. Becker, Director, Center of Excellence for Sustainable Development, U.S. Department of Energy .
The benefits of sustainable development for a property developer or builder are multiple and make financial sense. Take the case of Wal-Mart whose environmental initiatives are yielding benefits such as significantly reduced energy consumption and water bills. Charles Zimmerman, Vice President of Prototyping and New Format Development at Wal-Mart, says they’ve been able to do this by using “refrigerators that generate 50% less heat and are mercury-free, low heat, bathrooms with low flow fixtures and waterless urinals that cut water bills in half.” Other Wal-Mart initiatives like “Daylighting” paid for themselves in less than 2 years.
If builders and developers integrate similar systems at the design stage of a project, sustainable residential development can become a reality. Construction and architectural design that helps a homeowner reduce their monthly household expenses would, in itself, be reason enough for a green builder’s products to be in demand.
The benefits and increased profitability through sustainable real estate development are catching up and, in the blink of an annual eye, could become the norm. According to Brenna Walraven, president-elect of the National Building Owners and Managers Association and national director of property management at USAA Reality Co., based in San Antonio. “In five years, sustainable construction will become the norm, in part because of falling product costs. and the rest of commercial real estate needs to keep pushing harder for green…it cuts expenses, it’s good business and, most importantly, it’s the right thing to do.”
Sustainable real estate development has traditionally been marred by the perception of increased developer costs. However, if building sustainability measures are incorporated from the design stage, these costs can be completely eliminated or even significantly reduced. For example, the use of combined heat and power can reduce the total investment costs of community systems such as heating. Other costs incurred for measures such as low/dual flush toilets and energy efficient appliances are comparable, or in many cases similar, to their most popular standard versions.
Buildings consume 35% of the country’s energy each year. There are over 76 million residential buildings and 5 million commercial buildings in the United States today and that total number is expected to increase by another 38 million by 2010. Can you imagine the strain on energy resources and the subsequent rise in purchasing power costs? for households at that time? The use of sustainable residential development measures such as daylighting and solar water heating would not only reduce this pressure on energy resources, but also allow a developer to offer a client a more cost effective residential option. long-term.
Developers and builders can also benefit from sustainable development by using more economical, sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives for construction and building materials. Using recycled content building materials can reduce construction costs, thereby increasing profits. There are direct financial benefits here and the costs, as explained above, can be minimized.
Innovation always pays dividends and builders and developers who use sustainability alternatives may be the ones to reap the benefits. There’s never been a better time to embrace sustainability and still be able to make a profit than now. What we sow now, we will reap tomorrow and so is sustainability for property developers and builders.