It has long been thought that the high short term costs of sustainable construction outweigh the long term benefits; however, after you delve a little deeper, you discover that this initial thought process is not the case. Many architects and consultants are now finding ways to deliver sustainable designs at the same or below conventional cost.
Using research carried out from Reducing mechanical equipment cost: the economics of green design a case study is featured demonstrating a variety of design techniques that increased the thermal and lighting efficiency of a building, thereby reducing the capital and operating costs of mechanical equipment. Not only does this show capital costs are reduced, it also shows this can be done whilst being environmentally friendly.
Sustainability is very much at the forefront of both large and small scale projects. The Elephant & Castle regeneration project aims to re-establish the area as one of Londons most flourishing urban quarters, whilst implementing sustainability successfully. At the recent Greenbuild Expo event, Mr Pascal Mittermaier, director of sustainability at Lend Lease and project director for the Elephant & Castle scheme, explained how efficient and sustainable projects need not be expensive, and can in fact reduce costs in the long term. He explained that finding the trade-offs will ensure green doesnt cost more, and that how is more important than what when it comes to sustainability. This project will ensure net zero carbon growth through energy and water efficiencies and carbon offsets. Furthermore, it will introduce cycle and pedestrian networks to provide private and community green space, use non-polluting building materials, and ensure that upon completion, the area has a good amount of quality trees to enjoy. This highlights that using the natural resources available can ensure a highly sustainable project whist keeping costs down.
What Mr Mittermaier has shown is that by using the resources available to you, and maybe thinking a little outside of the box creating a highly sustainable project does not have to cost the Earth, but can certainly help keep it clean. Energy costs get reduced and there is also a reduction of raw materials used. Instead of hearing sustainability and immediately dismissing the idea because of expense or other issues, if you look closely you understand sustainability means a more comfortable and healthier living environment, reduced overall living expenses, fewer repairs and maintenance issues and better surroundings for our future generations. With all things considered, making a building sustainable is one of the best investments you can make today.