What Sustainable means to Green?

in Build That Green Blog,Green Building Terms

One term most often misunderstood and misused is the word ‘sustainable’.

In real estate, when discussing homes with green attributes, the terms ‘sustainable’, ‘green’, and ‘high-performance’ are often used interchangeably.

You may know the financial/economic world uses it in a broader context. For instance ” …demonstrate the business case for sustainable investing in emerging markets…”

Conversely in the building/design community, ‘sustainable’ has a very specific social and ecological meaning.  Wikipedia says …potential for our long-term well being, which depends on the natural world’s well being and the responsible use of natural resources.

Simply put sustainable means: the triple bottom line.

More about that in a moment – but first, let’s go back to 1987…

The United Nations (UN) officially defined ‘sustainable development’ from the Vancouver Valuation Accord. The UN Brundtland Commission then broke it into seven themes including this key concept:

In real estate development, social and environmental factors are to be given equal consideration to economic factors.

Today, we simplify sustainability to mean ‘the triple bottom line’: People, Planet AND Pocket.

Begin your next green home remodel by weighing the pros and cons of all three P’s.

  • People. Q: How will this impact our allergies? Are there existing hazards that need to be removed?
  • Planet. Q: Before I buy it, is this new material rapidly growing or sustainably-harvested?
  • Pocket. Q: Given the tax credit, is the payback on the geothermal better than a SEER-14 heat pump?

Tip: To be green, your project doesn’t HAVE to have an even 33% split between each ‘P’ – You just should  include all three to some degree.

What other terms do you know that also mean green? We’d love you to comment…

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