The Business Case for ‘Sustainable’ Buildings

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Three recent reports focus on the business case for sustainability, green buildings and human-centric buildings.

Are we now witnessing the new normal, where the question of sustainability cost is flipping from, how much extra will the sustainable building cost? to, what are the real costs in not providing sustainable buildings?

The WorldGBC Business Case for Green Building: A Review of the Costs and Benefits for Developers, Investors and Occupants, examines whether or not it is possible to attach a financial value to the cost and benefits of sustainable buildings.

The report highlights how green buildings can be delivered at a price comparable to conventional buildings and investments can be recouped through operational cost savings. It also notes that with the right design features, green buildings can create a more productive workplace.

The report specifically focuses on the potential benefits of green buildings throughout the various stages of the building lifecycle, from reduced costs during the design and construction phases through to improved health and productivity of workers when a building is in use.

“This is the first time all the credible evidence has been compiled into one collective resource”

  • Asset value: Emerging evidence in some markets of green buildings being able to more easily attract tenants and to command higher rents and sale prices
  • Design and construction costs: There has been an overall reduction in the costs associated with designing and constructing sustainable buildings
  • Operating costs: The direct benefits from green buildings in use (such as reduced energy and water use and lower long-term operations and maintenance costs) typically exceed any costs premiums associated with their design and construction within a reasonable payback period
  • Workplace productivity and health: The characteristics and indoor environments of green buildings can influence the productivity and health of workers who occupy them, resulting in bottom line benefits for businesses
The UKGBC Report Capturing the Value of Sustainability, Identifying the links between sustainability and business value focuses on a wider business case for sustainability, looking at at the challenges that businesses face in trying to identify the value they derive from their sustainability initiatives.

… the purpose of this report is to empower businesses and individuals to make the business case for environmental and social impact activities and to enable them to measure and demonstrate the value their organisations derive from such practices. 

Of particular note, relevant to my current work relating to FutuREstorative and with COST RESTORE in understanding the emergence of restorative and regenerative sustainability, this report notes we are seeing the rise of the restorative enterprise within the built environment

Much has been written on how businesses are moving towards doing more good rather than less bad. The phrases ‘net positive’ and ‘restorative enterprise’ are now appearing within sustainable business circles, with both referring to businesses that put back more than they take and restore social and natural capital whilst making a profit. Such businesses may be termed as using a ‘business with impact’ approach or being a ‘purpose driven’ organisation. In this context, ‘purpose’ may be de ned as ‘an aspirational reason for being which inspires and provides a call to action for an organisation, its partners and stakeholders, and provides bene t to local and global society’.

The white paper from Buildings 2030: Building 4 People: People-Centric Buildings for European Citizens published in November 2017 notes how the buildings we live and work in are affecting our environment, our physical & mental health, our wellbeing and our productivity.

The broad alignment of environmental and health agendas presents an opportunity to not only invest in better performing buildings, but also to improve the quality of life for people using these buildings. Enhancing the health and comfort of people in buildings has a huge potential for economic and societal benefits such as better health, increased productivity, reduced sick leave and a decrease in associated medical costs We call this approach “Building 4 People.”

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How significant was the first Buildings Day at COP21?

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In coming years, hopefully very significant. This was the first time that the built environment has been recognised as important in any global, United Nation climate change summit.

We now have the recognition that buildings and construction have a major impact and influence on climate changes, being part of the problem but also key to climate change solutions

My thoughts from following inspiring feeds from Paris and elsewhere, through the twitter hashtags of #COP21, #BuildingsDay #BuildBetterGreen #BackClimateAction and others:

I felt ashamed by the approach of our government in weakening and dismantling sustainability strategies for homes and buildings whilst others around the world are deepening their green building strategies

That the built environment players (leaders, companies, advocates, agencies, academics) all need to collaborate to ensure a sub 2 degrees warming path is central to sustainability strategies

Not once did I see BIM mentioned or cited as part of the building environment solution. BIM needs to engage with the leaders and decision makers who are shaping the design, construction and operation of buildings.

Encouraged to hear of net positive approaches, being restorative and regenerative in built environment sustainability approaches. Not only for carbon reduction but for social and health strategies to be ‘net-positive’

Encouragingly there have been many great pledges from GBC members around the world – including the UK.

Whilst major contractors and manufacturers were visible in making commitments or presenting the built environment world of contracting, of SME’s and supply chains right across the sector still needs to engage, and understand that business as usual may not be that usual in the coming year.

Finally – with the built environments impact on climate change, often quoted as 40% of the problem, making the real change to get on a sub 2 degree global warming path may seem impossible. Globally, through design and construction we need to reduce emissions by 84 GtCO2 by 2050 – thats taking over 22.000 coal fired power stations out of service.

Yet impossible is only a challenge – and as Steve Jobs said – its kind of fun to do the impossible.

What Is COP21?

Understand COP21 in these 7 graphics (via Green Biz)

France is chairing and hosting the 21 th Conference of Parties to the Framework UN Convention on Climate Change (COP21 / CMP11) from 30 November to 11 December 2015. This is a crucial conference since it must lead to a new international climate agreement, applicable to all, to keep global warming below 2 ° C.

18 countries (Austria, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Senegal, Singapore, Sweden, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States of America), and over 60 organisations launched an unprecedented Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction to speed up and scale up the sector’s huge potential to reduce its emissions and literally build greater climate resilience into future cities and infrastructure.

Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction to Combat Climate Change

Beyond sustainability: Buildings are a climate change problem … and also part of the solution.

Buildings are a climate change problem … and also part of the solution. With buildings responsible for an estimated 40% of all carbon emissions and having a huge influence of lifestyle, commerce and industry carbon reduction efforts, we can now longer afford to incrementally be less bad. And this year, 2015, being a significant year for climate change action, with the COP21 in Paris in December and the imminent release of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, it is time to recognise the role of buildings as a climate change solution.

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Beyond Sustainability, as you may have seen in the media, via social media or by invite, is our significant event in London on the 5th Oct. The event highlight will be Jason McLennan’s (CEO International Living Futures Institute) first UK keynote, which promises to be an inspiring call to do more good, as being less bad is not just enough anymore

The event will also include an overview of Living Building Challenge and Well Building Standard activity in the UK from Martin Brown, Fairsnape, and Ann Marie Aguilar, Arup Associates.  Hattie Hartman (Sustainability Editor at AJ) will chair a panel debate, featuring regenerative and well being sustainability activity in the UK from a range of presenters.  In addition John Alker UKGBC will introduce the UKGBC’s new campaign ‘Better Places for People‘ 

There will, of course, be opportunity for Q and A panel debates with speakers.

Please take this as your invite to attend. The event will held appropriately, in the wonderful Royal College of Physicians building on Regents Park. More details and how you can you can still register here.

Jason F. McLennan Keynote speaker:

Considered one of the most influential individuals in the green building movement today and the recipient of prestigious Buckminster Fuller Prize (the planet’s top prize for socially responsible design), Jason F. McLennan’s work has made a pivotal impact on the shape and direction of green building in the United States and Canada and he is a much sought after designer, presenter and consultant on a wide variety of green building and sustainability topics around the world.

Tweetchat Week: w/c 4th Feb 2014

images (1)Next week is shaping up to be a brilliant week of tweetchats and twitter based conversations.

Checkout:

European Green Build

First up on Tuesday 4th Feb I will be interviewing  Building the Future (based in Catalonia, Romania and Brazil) with @C21EXPO_Europe as part of the Construction21 Euro Green Build virtual Expo tweetchat series. We will be discussing sustainability communities in the built environment.

>>> Join this conversation on this chat at 11am UK, 12 CET using the hashtag #ExpoC21Chat

Sustainability Stakeholder Engagement

Later the same day at 7 pmUK (11am PT and 2pm ET)  I am delighted to be in conversation with Peggy Ward, sustainability officer at Kimberley Clark. Peggy, based in Appleton WI, USA will be explaining how Kimberly Clark engage with and learn from their stakeholder groups. This conversation is part of the monthly Sustainable Leadership Conversations series created by Andrea Learned and Martin Brown (see our Google+ community pages)

>>> Join with this conversation on the 4th Feb at 11am PST, 2pm ET and 7pm UK using the #sustldrconv hashtag

Living Building Challenge with the UKGBC PinPoint

And then, on the 6th February, as part of the UKGBC’s Pinpoint programme taking place 3-7 Feb to increase awareness of The Living Building Challenge in the UK with UKGBC members, we will be hosting, with @UKGBC Pinpoint, a conversation with Amanda Sturgeon, VP of the Living Building Challenge at the International Living Futures Institute in Seattle.

>>> Join this conversation at 11am PST, 2pm ET and 7pm UK using the #GVischat hashtag.

All of the above tweetchats will run for 60mins and provide ample opportunity to post questions to guests, share your experiences and comment on the subject matter.

We look forward to seeing you there, and if you would like to discuss how tweetchats can promote your organisation or sustainability initiatives please do get in touch.

Also of note next week is the #CSRChat with Susan McPherson on 6th Feb at 5pm UK

iSite Links:

Records of tweetchats and conversations

Are Tweetchats: the new digital benchmarking?

#tweetchats … observations + how to

Understanding the Living Building Challenge

UK_collaborative_logoDiscover why we think that the restorative sustainability thinking of the Living Building Challenge, as a philosophy, advocacy platform and a certification tool is vital to the UK sustainable construction.

This spring we are holding two Understanding the Living Building Challenge workshops that provide a 6-hour in-depth introduction, in Leeds on the 5th Feb and in London on the 28th Feb 2014

The first, held in Leeds generated lots of debate on the principles and application of Living Building Challenge within the UK. Feedback from the course included:  ” great overview of LBC” – “clarified the US language” – “A comprehensive presentation with highly informed discussion with participants” and  “informative and educational”

Our next course is in London on 28th Feb: at the UKGBC Offices in the Building Centre (Registration details here)

See A Living Building Challenge Conversation (with @UKBC and @AmandaSturgeon @LivingBuilding)

The Living Building Challenge™ is the built environment’s most rigorous performance standard. It calls for the creation of building projects at all scales that operate as cleanly, beautifully and efficiently as nature’s architecture. To be certified under the Challenge, projects must meet a series of ambitious performance requirements, including net zero energy, waste and water, over a minimum of 12 months of continuous occupancy.

A Full Day Course: Understanding the Living Building Challenge provides a 6-hour in-depth introduction to the Living Building Challenge. Attendees are green building leaders in their community: design professionals, contractors, developers, owners, government officials and employees of public agencies. In short, anyone and everyone who can impact the development of the built environment. This course will be in English without translation available. Participants who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate of course completion.

Living Building Challenge related post here on iSite

code for sustainable buildings

A while ago  I posted on the UKGBC task force UKGBC task group too important to be so narrow? and how it should embrace an open collaborative wiki style approach to the development of the Code for Sustainable Buildings.
This code will be so influential and far reaching that it cannot be developed behind closed doors, behind closed servers etc

Now the good news is that the UKGBC have started a consultation on the development of the Code.

Closing date back to the UKGBC is on the 12 December. A very short window compared to the months given to the same process for the Construction Sustainability Strategy.

The document can be downloaded from here, and a discussion area has been set up on the be2camp forum.

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