By DAVID COHEN
Building is a dirty business. Noise pollution, air pollution, Input materials – they all use energy and some have pretty nasty byproducts in their production. Everyone is getting very excited about electric vehicles, but transportation only produces roughly 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions while the built environment produces 39%, eek! That’s 11% during the construction process and 28% from operational emissions (heating, cooling, lighting,etc).
Why aren’t we concentrating on this more?
Why are purchasers not willing to pay a premium to buy a more sustainably designed and built building, but would pay a premium for a Tesla? We’re talking more than a few solar panels on the roof (although not a bad first step), we need to change the way we build.
Ever heard of cross-laminated timber? Bio-mimicry? Windcatching or evaporative cooling? These don’t need to be the bastion of eco-geeks. They are simple, relatively cheap and don’t emit greenhouse gases like air conditioners, but in SA most architects and builders will look at you cross-eyed if you mention it. We not only lack the will, but we also lack the skills.
Unless we as developers are willing to give purchasers more environmentally sustainable options, this conversation goes nowhere. But until purchasers signal to developers that there is a market for more sustainable development, then we will all speak lip-service to the importance of the environment but do nothing. When it comes to opening the wallet, we will go right back to the way we have been building for one hundred years.
To start the process, we are employing a sustainability engineer to improve our designs and reduce operating emissions on all future projects.
Since the 1980s, the mantra of the environmental crowd is that we should be doing this for our children, but the way we are heading, our generation is just as screwed as they are.