The building industry, unfortunately, continues to make the same mistakes over and over again. Green building remains one of the most talked about and least understood aspects of the industry. I recently read an article about the response of the building industry to the ratcheting up of standards. That article only served to solidify my opinion that NOBODY has a universal solution nor understands how to make green building work long term.
Case in Point: The biggest deterrent to implementing green building or, as I prefer it, sustainable building practices, is the cost. True, we live in an economic climate that will not allow us to pass on the cost of any additional features to a consumer, regardless of the short or long-term value. Unfortunately, this aversion to cost blinds us so we miss the opportunity to become better at our craft.
Green is viewed as an add-on to current building practices. If implemented in this fashion, you are correct in determining green certification adds cost directly to your current bottom line. However, what companies do not often consider is what can be changed, modified, improved or eliminated from the current building practices and replaced with better, proven technologies and practices, typically resulting in lower overall cost of construction. The biggest culprit and opportunity lies in waste. Waste, the largest non-green feature of any home, serves no purpose, provides no value, yet we continue to give it a home on our balance sheets.
If you want to be green (read sustainable) you must, as my colleague Scott Sedam would say, go on a “relentless pursuit of waste in all its forms” and utilize the savings to increase your bottom line and build a better home. The real secret of green is the short-term increase in profits companies find when effectively implemented, not the eventual multi-year paybacks often advertised.