My Thoughts on Sustainable Design

I’m at the Marina Bay Sands this week  attending the International Green Building Conference (IGBC) 2014 and over the past 2 days I’ve gotten to hear speakers from all over the world discussing the latest green building trends and technologies.

This year BCA has also released the Green Building Master Plan 3rd Edition which places greater emphasis on post occupancy performance of the building where the first two masterplans were focused solely on the ‘greeness’ of the building itself. Yay!

I’m convinced that sustainable development is the future for my industry. The only problem is getting people interested enough to give a damn.

Singapore, being the tiny resource starved country that it is has recognised this need early on and is trying hard to reduce the energy and resource needs of our buildings. The government is taking the lead by making it mandatory for all public sector buildings to reach a set standard. Monetary incentives have been offered to entice developers in the private sector to follow suit.

The chief concern that I see reiterated over and over at IGBC is that there is a need to make buildings sustainable but there’s no demand or rush to do so. One of the key strategies employed is to show (with supporting data) that it makes economic sense to build a green building. If developers only recognise that a sustainable development is a good marketing tool and saves money surely ‘green’ buildings will start popping up everywhere!

But I wonder if that’s targeting the wrong group of people.

All the policies, tech and data that I’ve seen the past two days is interesting but a bit dry. The truth is that building green just isn’t, for wont of a better word, sexy. All of it just comes off as nerdy, which isn’t a bad thing but not exactly endearing.

I’ve heard so many statistics thrown around for the percentage reductions in energy use in so many different contexts that I’m a little bit numbed to it all. Buildings are fascinating to me. The science is also interesting and ‘beautiful’ in a way. Data and numbers is just boring.

Governments should make these things mandatory because reducing our energy and resource usage is the right thing to do. But when you force developers to comply and likewise the occupants theres going to be some level of resentment directed towards it.

I’m not quite sure what would make this a more accessible topic to the population in general. I suspect though that once sustainable stuff becomes attractive and desirable and the demand for it increases then not just developers but corporations governments and everyone big and small will be clamouring to sell it.

Making this science stuff desirable is tough. But I think thats what we should be doing to drive the demand for a greener future.

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