Does Sustainable Design Have to Cost More

Does Sustainable Design Have to Cost More?

We all love the notion of sustainable design but there are hundreds of sustainable design projects that never saw the light of day because of the misconception that they have to cost more than traditional projects.  Does sustainable design have to cost more?  No, sustainable design is meant to reduce the cost during the project and far beyond.

Why the misconception?

When it comes to money and projects upfront costs held far more sway than operational costs when it comes to getting a project off the ground.  Fortunately that short sighted view is starting to change.  Energy saving construction materials used to cost more than traditional materials that had been used for years.  However for the building owner energy efficient material reduced the operational costs for the lifetime of the building.

Changing demand

As energy costs started to soar the demand for energy saving building materials increased and so did production.  This brought the costs of energy saving materials more in line with what was already on the market.  They are less expensive and will save you plenty over the lifetime of your home or commercial building.  Responsible building owners are a thrifty lot and they understand the value of a product.  However there still aren’t enough sustainable design projects being put forward.

What makes sustainable design?

  1. Benefit to the community
  2. Benefits to the local economy
  3. Savings on energy costs
  4. Reduced impact on the environment.

All of these are necessary components to a sustainable design project.  While we all support sustainable design in theory oftentimes one or more of these elements are missing to make a community project a sustainable one.

Building our communities

Many of our communities will put together projects with the goal of strengthening the community and creating economic development and that’s a good thing.  The question remains though why can’t communities also strive to reduce energy costs and the impact on the environment, why miss out on the chance to do some good for future generations and beyond.  Here are just some of the standards that we as a community should be looking at when it comes to development projects.

  • Building and operating with clean energy
  • Minimize water runoff with pervious pavement materials
  • Make our new and existing buildings greener
  • Low maintenance structure and materials

This doesn’t have to be a complicated issue but going forward we have to look at each project and evaluate it based on whether it has sustainable design.  Sustainable design strengthens our communities and we need to start questions whether it should even be built if it isn’t sustainable.