Tag Archives: World Green Building Council

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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A Green Built Environment supports the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s)

This blog has referenced the Sustainable Development Goals on many occasions, indeed within FutuREstorative I make the case for the SDG’s to replace the Brundtland definition.

It is now three decades since the Brundtland Commission defined Sustainable Development as ‘doing nothing today that compromises future generations’. It was and remains the definitive ‘strapline’ that has been built into countless sustainability strategies definitions, statements and policies. We have chosen the ‘do nothing’ option, and are compromising future generations, and without radical, positive change we will continue to compromise the next generation.

Understanding and addressing the huge influence of the built environment is essential. This (influence and responsibility) must be included as an organisational governance issue to enable a culture of restorative approaches and delivery.   FutuREstorative

In 2015 the UN published its Sustainability Development Goals 2030. The SDGs define the intention to change the Brundtland definition of sustainability to a new purpose that is proactive and net-positive, and one that improves the social, environment and financial wellbeing of people and the planet by 2030. Just as we embraced the Brundtland definition, so we must now embrace the SDGs as a foundation for our sustainability visions and strategies.

The World Green Building Council recently released a handful of great infographics illustrating how the built environment can support SDG’s,

While many might look at a building and see only an inanimate structure, we look at buildings and see both the physicality and the process by which they are created – an opportunity to not only save energy, water and carbon emissions but to educate, create jobs, strengthen communities, improve health and wellbeing, and much, much more. Green building is a true catalyst for addressing some of the world’s most pressing issues. World Green Building Council 

The SDG’s give new purpose to  built environment Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR):

Content pages cityscape SDGs new

Giving purpose to green facilities management, that can, through promotion of green offices, address several SDG’s:

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And how our homes can be the building blocks in support of the sustainability goals:

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EcoBuild launch a vision for a Built Environment future …

Ecobuild, in association with Building has published ‘Future of the Built Environment’ as part of the launch for EcoBuild 2015.  The white paper, a collection of thought pieces from leading industry players, assesses the future of the sector, painting a very useful picture for a not-so-far into the future built environment.

It is set of future scenarios, encompassing beauty, circular economy, health, equity and eco systems. And in this respect closer to the regenerative sustainability philosophy of Living Building Challenge and the Well Building Standard than it is of current, more energy performance focused BREEAM and Regulations.

Jane Henley, Chief Executive Officer, World Green Building Council sees the next chapter for green building as one of health, wellbeing and productivity, arguing that business may be less interested in the mechanical and energy issues of a building than they are on how investing in better indoor environments will lead to better returns on their greatest asset: people

Rick Willmott, Chief Executive, Willmott Dixon sees a contracting future as one of climate adaption, carbon targets and collaborative construction with a leadership that ‘digs deeper’. The circular economy will be key, offering industry tremendous opportunities. Willmott cites the rising energy costs and depletion of finite natural resources that will lead to a mushrooming market for recycled materials, and a move to designing buildings with deconstruction in mind from the outset.

Munish Datta, Head of Plan A & Facilities Management, Marks & Spencer sees the future being about beautiful buildings, “We spend 90% of our time in buildings so why shouldn’t they be beautiful”, delivered from an industry that is holistic,where every role, from developers to facilities management, is incentivised to design, build, operate and re-use buildings for their life.

Paul King, Chief Executive Officer, UK Green Building Council sees that there is a great deal a new government, of whatever hue, can do to create the conditions in which a sustainable built environment industry can thrive. It can save more money than it needs to spend, it can set clear and consistent policy direction, and it can lead by example. “Frankly, to do anything else would be to squander an opportunity for growth the UK simply cannot afford”

Sarah Richardson, Editor, Building, sees the sector on the cusp of a radical transformation, with a growing sense that new technologies are not just an optional extras but key to delivering necessary efficiencies. However, to realise any transformation, a shift in the demographic of the sector itself is required, to attract a broader mix of talent that can imagine a future free from the constraints of the past.

Peter Caplehorn, Deputy CEO, Construction Products Association sees a key challenge for the industry being to get out of buildings the performance we design into them

Ike Ijeh, Architectural Critic, Building and Building Design describes  a future sustainable environment as one which has established a holistic vision for integrated urban development where every aspect of the city is specifically planned and designed to maximise social, economic and environmental benefits for its inhabitants while at the same time minimising its ecological footprint. The city itself no longer relies on an ecosystem, it becomes one.

Recommended reading for all in the sector, the EcoBuild paper can be downloaded from here