[Run time: 54:30 min.] I was reading the Scobleizer and found a fairly substantial video interview with Toby Long, founder of the San Francisco-based, design-build firm CleverHomes. Cleverhomes is one of those companies swimming upstream in a construction river of anti-progress, anti-innovation, and staunch traditionalism. I love the Scoble laugh, seriously, it makes the interview pretty good. Long talks about the interface of technology + construction, or what I’m calling Construction 2.0, with an added dimension of sustainability. Going forward, the environmental consequences associated with construction need to be figured into a given project’s analysis. He also mentions structural insulated panels (SIPs), building information modeling (BIM), sustainability, and modern vernacular. Get past the beginning and give it go…
Some cities require LEED or green buildings. Some cities fast track the permitting process for green buildings. Some cities provide tax incentives or some sort of creative financing for green buildings. Nevertheless, developers say the economics of green buildings don’t work–they say the government needs to do more to support green buildings. On the other hand, the EPA says the government provides enough support via federal tax breaks up to $1.80 per square foot and other miscellaneous energy conservation programs. What do you say?
The fact is, the boom in green buildings is being driven by (1) tenant demand and (2) federal, state, and local incentives. But are there any other drivers pushing the green movement?
- Social Pressure – depending on your business model, green buildings may be required to keep the sustainable message consistent corporate wide.
- Lower Operating Costs – even if green buildings are more expensive to build, they are cheaper to operate, in terms of maintenance, water consumption, and energy consumption.
- Marketing Advantage – this is related to #1, but a little different. Caution on the green washing, but a green strategy can be good for (re) positioning according to the competition or targeting specific consumers.
- Recruiting Magnet – instead of developing a corporate presence on Myspace or Second Life, why not do something substantial by making a difference? Some of the best talent is going to companies that have a presence in savvy, green buildings.
- Impairment – I’ve read from both Harvard Business Review and Ernst & Young that non-green buildings are going to be obsolete and could face big-time impairment charges.
Green buildings are leasing up and other buildings tend towards higher vacancies (lower rents). The best talent is going to the greenest companies. Oil and coal companies are irritating customers and worrying shareholders because they won’t change their ways. People are choosing companies with their wallets–they stop frequenting environmentally insensitive companies. Water and energy is becoming a constrained resource and businesses that lower their costs by using less resources have a competitive advantage over competition. These intangibles need to be considered when thinking about green buildings, because after all, it’s about value not cost.
As one of the first residential LEED homes on the west coast, the Kelly Woodford home is blazing a trail for the future of residential construction. In addition to its USGBC certification, the home is "net zero energy use" and Energy Star certified. The 2,000 square-foot, three-bedroom/two-bath retreat has a great view of Mt. Hood and some pretty impressive green features. Tom Kelly and Barbara Woodford built the home as a family getaway (with the Neil Kelly Company as general contractor), but they’ve also made the home available half the year to Neil Kelly employees to enjoy.