sustainability and the crunch

The UKGBC released results of a survey earlier this week, which should be seen as important reminder that sustainability is here to stay despite the economic situation.

Results released today from a poll held during a webinar hosted by the UK Green Building Council have revealed that British companies see sustainability as a growth area over the next 3 years, despite the current financial crisis. More than 92% of respondents felt that sustainability would either grow as an issue or stay at the same level despite the credit crunch.

27% said that the financial crisis has had no adverse effect on their organisation’s efforts to tackle sustainability and more than half (55.54%) said it had caused it to become an even bigger focus for them over the past 6 months.

The general consensus from respondents was that during these times of uncertainty, it is important for government to stick to ambitious green targets, maintaining the direction of travel for policy and regulation. More than 96% either agreed or strongly agreed with this statement.

This was supported recently via colleague Pam Broviak, who recently sent live tweets and comments (via Twitter) from the US GreenBuild08 conference:

Me: whats the buzz re green v credit crunch ?

Pam:  everyone says it really hasn’t affected it a lot

Of course if we consider the triple bottom line, of environmental, social AND economic sustainability this makes sense. But as has been commented here before the survivors of this financial crisis will be those who have resilient practices and approaches in place – and that this must include social and environmental

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are green buildings usable?

It seems we are becoming awash with green buildings, eco homes and eco towns.

There are some great sites out there with green architecture eye candy (check out Mad Architecture for example).

We have some major and significant conferences and events on the horizon – from the international Eco City 2008, Green Build 2008 and West Coast Green, here in the UK Think 08, and more locally the Elevate Exemplar event in September and the Lancs Best Practice Club July event.  All very different and important to their target audiences.

Even in Second Life there are great green and sustainable ‘built environment’ demonstration and education projects

And yet in all the design, conferences, events and working groups I see very little about the usability of green buildings – what is it like to work, live and play in them?  What does the comfort level  within (and around) green building do for health, for productivity and for well being?  What is it really like to be a citizen of a eco-city such as Auroville?

Once again I am convinced its not the building – green or other wise – but the way we use buildings that is paramount importance on the sustainability agenda – as Prof Keith Alexander down at the Center for Facilities Management comments – its about building consumption – not production. 

Time to turn the telescope around?  Is the green / sustainability movement in the built environment stuck in the building production with eye candy design, at the expense of the usability of the buildings?

As a Friday comment – I am throwing down a challenge for comments and evidence – are  Green Buildings usable?

I invite guest posts here and links to sites that discuss this issue.