As a green building consultant, one of the biggest underlying flaws I hear in the green building debate is that green building costs more and is less cost effective. Our goal is to help you design projects that are profitable and green. Yes, you can be profitable and green at the same time, they are not mutually exclusive.
In addition, one question continues to confuse developers – what exactly is sustainable planning and development? What does sustainable development mean? Why are we worried about problems like climate change, environmental pollution and energy shortages? Why is everyone talking about sustainable development? Is sustainable development advice just the latest word to spread? Is it simply fashionable to claim that you are environmentally friendly and plant trees and switch to CFL bulbs to show proof?
Al Gore says, “There is a growing sense that we are reaching the limits of Earth’s ability to sustain our civilization.” This is a popular view and the answer to all these questions is an obvious ‘no’. The climate on Earth is negatively affected and the accelerated economic development undoubtedly leaves little for our future generations. The threat to our environment is real, clear and close. How can we minimize the damage? Leaving a healthier country for our future generations? The answer lies in sustainable planning and development.
How do we define it? The U.S. Department of Energy defines sustainable development as – “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, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, defines sustainable development as: “Sustainable development enables economic progress and environmental quality to be compatible goals. Communities find that sustainable development strategies save taxpayers money, improve local business profits, and to make the community more livable. “
When Thomas Jefferson made the following statement in 1789, he may not have spoken of sustainable development, as the term is used today, but there was a definite vision of what the future might look like if humanity refused to be prudent with the gifts of nature, “Then I say Earth belongs to each … generation during its time, in full and in its own right, no generation can contract debts greater than those that could be paid during its existence. “
Robert Gilaman, president of the Context Institute, defines sustainability as “Sustainability refers to the ability of a society, ecosystem or any such system that is ongoing to continue to function indefinitely without being forced to decline due to depletion of … key resources.”
The answer must begin at the ‘micro level’, with us, who use the prey of nature for progressive urbanization. The solution to the problem must begin with the way we ‘build’, ‘create’ and ‘redecorate’ our cities, towns and homes. Green development initiatives are first level solutions for sustainable development.
Solutions for sustainable development are needed and they must be pervasive, long-term policies involving governments, societies and people. But before we start talking about the benefits of sustainable development, let’s look further: “How do we define sustainable development?”
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 their own needs.” Easier, anonymous, sustainable development is “Growth without cheating our children”.
The definition of sustainable development may differ in different geographical areas, cultures and countries. Ultimately, however, it is a process that requires global participation at the individual level. 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 that sense launches the concept of sustainable development.
Since we use the environment for social and economic purposes, we are the ones who have to decide whether the current exchange between “ecology” and “economy” is beneficial for us in the long run. We can continue to use wood to build our homes and destroy all of our forests, or decide on healthier alternatives that help the economy grow and keep our planet safe and secure for our future generations so they can build their homes. In this sense, ‘people’ form the focal point in the whole picture. Therefore, by definition, you and I, an individual house – owner, builder or investor, are part of the basic principles of sustainable development – people, the planet, profit.
So what steps can you, as a builder or homeowner, take to ensure sustainable real estate development? You can do a lot. Changing the bulb to CFL may not be a complete solution, but it is definitely the first step towards that. As a homeowner, you can search for sustainable development topics online and examine the different choices you can make for a greener home. Informative articles on sustainable development abound on the Internet and you can learn a lot about how to make environmentally healthier choices for the new house you plan to build or for the remodeling work you have in mind in your vacation home.
However, greater responsibility lies on the shoulders of the real estate developer community because if we build it ‘green’ from scratch we make a stronger impact. Contrary to popular belief, the role of private sector investors in sustainable real estate development is crucial and much more cost-effective. Building a ‘green’ makes sense and is cost effective. In addition, sustainable real estate development has the thumbs of the government – “In the not too distant future, all development will be green. Developers, builders and buyers will discover that green not only improves their pockets, but also their health and quality Developers who first they will have an advantage in the huge emerging market … “- William S. Becker, Director of the Center of Excellence for Sustainable Development, US Department of Energy.
The benefits of sustainable development for a real estate builder or builder are multiple and make financial sense. Take the case of Wal-Mart, whose environmental initiatives reap benefits such as significantly reduced energy consumption and lower water bills. Charles Zimmerman, Wal-Mart’s vice president of prototype development and new formats, says they have achieved this by using “refrigerators that generate 50% less heat and no mercury, low-heat lighting sources, low-light bathrooms and waterless urinals that reduce water bills.” water in half. ” Other Wal-Mart initiatives like ‘Daylighting’ have paid off in less than 2 years.
If builders and developers install similar systems in the design phase of the project, sustainable housing development can become a reality. Building and architectural design that helps homeowners reduce their monthly household expenses would, in itself, be a strong enough reason for green builders ’products to be sought after.
Benefits and increased profitability through sustainable real estate development are catching up and in the blink of an eye a year can become the standard. Says Brenna Walraven, president-elect of the National Association of Building Owners and Managers and director of national asset management at USAA Reality Co. based in San Antonio. “Within five years, sustainable construction will become the norm, partly due to falling product costs. Retail and the rest of commercial real estate must continue to work harder for green … it reduces costs, it’s a good job and, more importantly, it is the real thing. “
Sustainable real estate development has traditionally been undermined by the perception of increased costs for investors. However, if sustainable building development measures are incorporated in the design phase, these costs can be completely eliminated, if not significantly reduced. For example, the use of combined heat and power generation can reduce the overall capital cost of a community system such as heating. Other costs incurred due to measures such as low / double flush toilets and energy efficient appliances are comparable or similar in many cases to their more popular standard versions.
Buildings consume 35% of national energy each year. There are more than 76 million residential and 5 million commercial buildings in the U.S. today, and this total is expected to increase by another 38 million by 2010. Can you imagine the stress on energy resources and the subsequent increase in energy purchase costs for households in this moment? Using sustainable housing development measures such as daylight and solar water heating would not only reduce this stress on energy resources, but would also allow the investor to offer the client a more cost-effective housing option in the long run.
Another way that developers and builders can benefit from sustainable development is to use more economical, sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives to construction and building materials. The use of recycled building materials can reduce construction costs and thus increase profits. There are direct financial benefits here, and costs, as explained above, can be minimized.
Innovation always pays dividends, and builders and developers who use sustainable development alternatives can be the ones who make a profit. There has never been a better time to adopt sustainable development measures and continue to make a profit than today. What we sow now, we will reap tomorrow, and thus sustainable development for investors and builders.