The Economy and Sustainable Building

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Zeppelin's picture
Zeppelin
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 31 2013
Posts: 1
The Economy and Sustainable Building

Does anyone have any opinions or outlooks on the effects of building and designing sustainable buildings may have on the economy.

I would like to start with what I feel constitutes a sustainable building today, I understand that the ROI on a solar panel today may not be worth investing in, but there are many other aspects of sustainable buildings that may be overlooked at first (Building homes that are "solar ready" may provide your home with the opportunity to install solar panels at a discounted cost down the road when solar technology is more affordable could pay off down the road). Building a home that required less energy to manufacture and less energy to simply run are a big part of today's sustainable building market. In Switzerland they are designing homes that take no energy to heat, designing the home in such a way that the body temperature of occupants and the heat off the lights is sufficient in keping a comfterable temperature. Homes are built in factories and manufactured on site reducing waste, and labour by over 30%. Ultimately creating a product that took less energy to build and virtually zero energy to run. . 

If your hydro bill is 250$ a month but with proper design could be as low as 50$, what effects could that 200$ dollars play in the economy? Instead of simply burning that unnecassary energy into thin air, creating a form of wealth destruction that is unnesacary. 

If lenders incorporate energy efficiency as well as location efficiency of housing into their underwriting criteria, this provides them with a way to expand credit while decreasing risk. Another positive effect may  reducing the amount of imported energy resources into the U.S, which accounts for a substantial part of the deficit. 

 

 

 

A. M.'s picture
A. M.
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 22 2008
Posts: 2368
Sustainability

A quick thought on Sustainability as it relates to modern development:

It goes a lot deeper than renewable energy. 
Society 100 years ago was "sustainable", and with little or no electrical energy. 
The issues that were faced then are the worthier part of the overall sustainablity discussion.
What do we do with human waste?
Where is our water coming from?
How is it used? How is it heated?
Where does the "waste" water go?
How many people can be sustained in a given area by the produce and livestock grown around it?

Energy is important, but it's a tiny fraction of the overall issue. It is, however, a very good place to start, and intelligent design of homes so that they're optimized for efficiency and lower consumption is a practice that could have done a *lot* of good, if we'd have started doing it 50 years ago. 

When Westerners think of "sustainability", we think of maintaining our standard of living. We think of reusable grocery bags, alternative energy and more efficient cars.
When the people of the 3rd world (let's not kid ourselves into thinking they're developing, or will have time to develop) think of "sustainability", it is a question of clean water, enough food and adequate shelter for both people and livestock. 

This discussion might come across as barbaric or as an overzealous estimation of future calamity. 
That's fine. But it is a matter of reality for ~80% of the worlds population, who live on ~$10/day.

The 'triumph of urbanization', to quote a phrase from someone I greatly respect, is going to create an even more drastic dynamic to this as the cities give way to sprawling slums where resource scarcity is the rule, rather than the exception. 

So sustainability is just a word to us. It's a small effort to make it seem like things will be ok, when they will not. Sustainability requires we rethink our entire social infrastructure, or nature will rethink it for us. Comforts will need to come last, rather than first.

Cheers,
Aaron
 

OldManOnFire's picture
OldManOnFire
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 9 2013
Posts: 5
It would be great if we could

It would be great if we could reduce the size on average of our homes.  Instead of 2000-2500 square foot average size homes, give people the option to buy 600-1200 square foot homes.  And these smaller homes would not be cheap junk but instead high quality and energy efficient.  No more row homes with no trees looking like concrete city.  Smaller homes can be randomly placed among trees using drought tolerant landscaping all gas appliances solar assisted.  There is no need for our excesses in home size...

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