Singapore 25th July 2010
Sustainability is obviously one of the trendy subjects wherever you go, whether you read a magazine, see it in one of those “green” TV programs or your client is mentioning it as part of your design brief. According to Wikipedia and other media, sustainability has become a term that is used now in nearly every facet of our life and certainly in our (building) industry. As our human population grows our way of living has a parallel negative impact on the ecological balance of nature and its natural resources. It is not difficult to see that humanity is living in an unsustainable way and that we need to reorganize the way we live and consume.
But it is important to note that environmental sustainability cannot be seen separate from economical sustainability and cultural sustainability. What it means is that unless it is financially viable and it will be hard to get people to apply a sustainable way of living. At the same time this sustainable way should also be compatible with the various cultures in which it is to be applied. What works in Europe does not necessarily work in India or China.
Specifically the money part seems to be the biggest stumbling block in our projects. At the beginning everyone is enthusiastic about the “green” goals but by the time the related cost estimates comes in there is a sudden change of heart. People generally are only interested to do these things if they get better from it not if it costs then more then conventional solutions. I talk main stream, as there are always trendsetters and environmentally conscious people for whom cost is not the main decision maker. A good quality LED down light will cost you about 4 times more than a conventional compact fluorescent or halogen down light for about 50% energy saving at comparable performance. Even though pay back times of several years maybe acceptable to some it is generally a threshold that many project clients fail to take.
Therefore sustainability has to be considered as part of a financial viability and cultural acceptance as well…the good news is that more and more clients put their actions where their mouth is.