Sustainability Is Moving Along the Maturity Curve
Sustainability is maturing beyond the “new build” emphasis that characterized it not so long ago. Today, the emphasis is on developing corporate sustainability policies and protocols to improve behavior and outcomes while working to strengthen new build rating systems and credentials.
The growing interest and effort behind developing net zero buildings is placing a premium on the integration of design and operation, and recognizes that a building’s affect on the environment continues over its entire life span, the sum of the whole being several factors greater than first environmental cost. Key strategies in this maturation include green leasing, supply chain accountability, making data transparent and possibly a bit of social engineering.
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) continues to evolve but is only one example of maturing sustainability regimens. In August of this year the UK Green Building Council published the results of its latest review with members as it gears up for a GRI update in 2011. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program continues to refine its credentials and provide market-niche specific certifications. In whole, these and similar transitions in other protocols indicate a continuing trend toward knowledge specialization with the goal of driving sustainability consciousness deeper into the built environment psyche.
An interesting evolution to watch is the increasing use and effect of visible building performance data. Important to operators because visibility makes operating efficiency transparent, and therefore important to them personally as well as organizationally, it also has the potential to broaden its reach. Buildings with good sustainability resumes command higher rents. As technology makes information more visible, however, it will not only be owners and operators who see it. Occupants will be able to compare energy performance of other occupants in the building. This visibility has some peer pressure potential and most certainly will encourage lessees to include occupant energy profiles on their lease shopping list.