For Musings’ first “new look” Guest Post Friday, we welcome Raquel Bedell of Build2Sustain. Build2Sustain seeks to break down barriers to sustainable commercial building and design by developing best practices and real-world business cases. Our mission: to bring sustainable design to every organization – large or small. You can follow Build2Sustain on Twitter at @build2sustain.
Today, with the interest in “green” and “eco-friendly” products and environments increasing, you often hear conflicting messages about how investment in a product will save you in the long run, or how certain practices have netted less savings than anticipated. So how do we know what works and what doesn’t? Is it any wonder that developers and other clients are reluctant to renovate their spaces since we as professionals cannot point to solid whole-scale renovation models that demonstrate ROI?
And what about all these commercial buildings–the office complexes dotted along the roads and highways in every state across this country, built years ago and inefficiently chugging along? Given that half a building’s lifetime carbon emissions happen during its initial construction, it’s more wasteful to tear them down and begin again. This means, they must be renovated if we are to successfully tackle the challenges of this generation.
These questions and challenges are what attracted and inspired us to create Build2Sustain. Build2Sustain will be looking to create valuable ROI models and preferred solutions for the commercial renovation segment. We aim to appeal to potential clients in every neighborhood, professionals within the design/build community, and create a new focus on renovation.
As we began to think about the questions outlined above, we realized that a big way to break down resistance and fear would be in opening up the renovation process. With a whole host of social media at our fingertips, it is easier now than ever before to quickly share videos, photos, and commentary and to receive immediate feedback from viewers. While project managing a renovation, the community at large can follow along in real time. This access helps professionals develop best practices and quickly establish real case scenarios that can be pointed to with other clients in the future. It opens the process to anyone interested in renovation, especially owners and/or tenants who begin to see the feasibility and savings it could generate. More importantly, it gives them a tangible textbook case, a point of reference that they can become intimately familiar with, along with videos that explain how the products used are made and what makes them sustainable. The result of this is that a sustainable, cost-effective renovation will no longer seem like a faraway intellectual exercise but like a tangible, familiar goal.
We intend to collect data and follow up on projects long after their completion to track real world energy consumption and satisfaction. We want to see how people work and breathe in this new space and what implications this brings. With all this information, we will be able to offer preferred solutions that owners/tenants and design/build professionals can use as a starting point to begin their own renovations. As renovations begin to expand, we will have healthier, happier workspaces with lower carbon emissions.
In the end, as we make the business case for sustainability, sustainable commercial renovation will become the default; there won’t even be a question of doing it any other way.
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