Sustainable practices make good business sense
Is your home, apartment or villa making you money? This is not a disguised real estate pitch but rather a true statement if you consider that saving money and healthy living is tantamount to efficient and productive living, resulting in the creation of steady income streams. The issue here is sustainable environmental practices in construction.
Besides being an environmental issue, sustainability practices can also generate revenue, reduce cost, manage risk and grow social responsibility. This definition gives focus to the foundational drivers of a business while adding the new dimension of environmental impact.
Thus, sustainability opens the door to new businesses and a market worth billions of dollars. According to McGraw-Hill construction, the world's ‘green' building business will be worth more than $140 billion in 2013. The increase in the sustainable market in the Middle East also is set to rise rapidly while Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are introducing their own compulsory environmental building regulations. The ‘green' construction sector is also growing due to the commercial value of building green. e-Ecosolutions is a green building consultant that operates in Lebanon and the region. We asked Gilbert Tegho, CEO and Founder, and Sustainability Consultant at e-EcoSolutions if sustainable practices make good business sense. Below are his answers:
"In Green buildings we use LifeCycle costing, in comparison to the usual First Cost," Tegho said.
Here are some examples without going into ROI of any specific project :
You can split Green building benefits into First costs savings, and Running costs savings :
1- First Cost Savings :
- A well insulated building envelope reduces the capacity needed for the HVAC or heating system by almost 50%.
- A well oriented (south orientation) building façade increases daylight penetration without the associated sun-heat, i.e. reducing lighting capacity by design.
- Proper design and attention to reduction of construction waste, coupled with a comingled recycling of construction waste can reduce construction costs by almost 3%.
- A Reduction of the building footprint reduces excavation costs.
- In the GCC, where many residential compounds have a copy/paste design, using precast concrete walls reduces steel structures, and is cost beneficial.
2- Running Cost Savings :
- A well insulated building envelope reduces the need for HVAC or heating uptime.
- A well insulated building envelope reduces the need for artificial power-generated ventilation (of course in climates and conditions that allow so).
- Maximizing open spaces that are green and pervious increase heat absorption of the soil, and reduce heat reflection on building envelope. All resulting again in reduced HVAC uptime. This is also valid when planting high trees that are green in summer (provide external envelope shading) and lose their leaves in winter (allowing the sun to heat the interiors).
- A VRV (Variable Refrigerant Volume) HVAC system returns the costs of its higher initial cost in less than a year of usage.
- A BMS (Building Management System) that controls HVAC, sunshades, and lighting reduces energy demand by more than 40%. It usually uses a mix of motion, daylight, and thermal sensors in conjunction with time-programming to turn on/off lights, HVAC and shades.
- Water saving devices (taps, flushing systems, shower-heads) cut water demand by a minimum of 30% without any noticeable impact on users.
- Waste Water treatment, Grey Water, and Rainwater collection allow a minimum reduction of 60% on potable water demand.
- Solar hot water installation reduces energy demand. In the GCC such systems are usually electrical heating.
- Due to the hot climate in the GCC, it is also difficult to get cold water supply in summer. People usually open the shower water for a long time, waiting for the water to cool-off. Installing heat exchange devices with the cool air that is going out from the air-conditioned areas will surely reduce the need for wastewater.
- Energy efficient lighting (LED, CFL), and energy efficient appliances, all reduce energy consumption.
- Installing on-site renewable energy is a matter of careful design and ROI to validate.
Intangible cost benefits :
- Green Buildings provide a healthier living atmosphere which translates into reduced sickness, due in part to the selection of materials that have reduced or eliminated VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) such as paints, resins, plaster, etc. In commercial buildings, this quickly translates into reduced absenteeism, higher productivity and considerable savings.
- Carpooling, bicycle facilitation, and walkways for access to primary services, all reduce the need for cars and petrol which are usually not equated in the developer's cost benefits.
"Sustainability", "green", and "environment" are all "buzz" words today in the construction field and may sound a bit cliché', but facts are facts. A bit of conscientious living coupled with ecologically sound construction can save you agony and money and allow you to live comfortably productive.