Bestselling Sustainability & Green Design in 2020
Sustainability (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series)
The Year-Round Solar Greenhouse: How to Design and Build a Net-Zero Energy Greenhouse
- New Society Publishers
Sustainable Construction: Green Building Design and Delivery
- WILEY ACADEMIC
Going Off the Grid: The How-To-Book of Simple Living and Happiness
A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy
Green Design: Creative Sustainable Designs for the Twenty-First Century
- Used Book in Good Condition
Shipping Container Homes: A Guide on How to Build and Move into Shipping Container Homes with Examples of Plans and Designs
Sustainable Residential Development: Planning and Design for Green Neighborhoods
Designing Your Perfect House: Lessons from an Architect: Second Edition
The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability--Designing for Abundance
- North Point Press
The Integrative Design Guide to Green Building: Redefining the Practice of Sustainability
The Forest Garden Greenhouse: How to Design and Manage an Indoor Permaculture Oasis
- Ships from Vermont
Design for Good: A New Era of Architecture for Everyone
What Are the Incentives to Make Your Existing Building Greener?
A lot of new buildings are built greener, but what about older buildings? Are we incentivised to eco-refurbish our existing buildings? Yes! But we could do more.
The qualitative incentives to eco-refurbish a property are plentiful. Although, every project must be evaluated based on its specific characteristics and qualities, in some cases it may be more efficient to make use of an existing building and refurbish it rather than demolish it, which may create excessive waste and use more energy. There is an increasing social consciousness of the strain we have placed on the planet and its resources as urban and rural areas have become more developed. The maximum rate of petroleum extraction has already been reached in many countries and in the Middle East, undoubtedly the source on which we are most dependent, Peak Oil is estimated to be within five to ten years. Poor drainage and the replacement of natural woodlands and vegetation in built-up areas with non-porous materials effects the natural cycle of water and its availability.
The community of people interested in property and sustainable development is growing and there are a number of advisors, builders, surveyors, and architects that can help institute design and refurbishment processes that are sensitive to the environment and use energy and water efficiently. At present this has been predominantly in the residential building sector. What we need to see is more developers, owners, and investors in the commercial sector implementing these ideas in their refurbishment projects. Often, moral incentives alone do not sufficiently motivate corporations to take positive action. They have stakeholders, shareholders, and financiers to answer to and are concerned about the financial bottom line. The role of government as a catalyst to change is useful by providing more grants, tax incentives, and low-interest loans as financial incentives. In the US a number of organisations such as the Department of Energy and non-for-profit private foundations provide funding solutions, promoting green building and energy efficient. The federal government offers tax credits to consumers for energy efficient home improvements and to home builders, appliance manufacturers, and commercial property developers that meet certain energy standards. A substantial amount of information to improve awareness, education, and to incite action is available on the website for the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
In the UK, the Energy Saving Trust was established in 1993 following the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro the previous year. Focused on promoting action that leads to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, the Trust provides advice to consumers, businesses, and the public sector and provides grants for home improvements. The Department of Energy and Climate Change provides funding assistance to people qualifying for disability and income-related benefits to better insulate their homes and use renewable energy initiatives. With over 8.5 million homes in the UK built before 1960, we can see why the emphasis has been on residential eco-refurbishment. Low average household incomes and the already lack of affordable housing has meant that government subsidies have been directed to the areas of most need. But commercial buildings are also significant users of energy and water and older buildings could also benefit from green make-overs. One could argue that with the levels of profits corporations and their managers enjoy, that they should be taking the lead in instituting sustainable redevelopment and refurbishment projects, without the government's aid. Government-driven incentives might be a good starting point, to encourage sustainable activities and start to change how corporations and commercial property stakeholders view their properties and their impact on the environment.
Awareness, the development of new technologies and processes, and financial assistance are only the beginning to transforming how we build, how we use and appreciate the resources available to us, and how we live. We start to change our behaviour and perspectives so that they too are sustainable.