By Jim Forthofer
“There really are no anti-sustainability people in our business. There are only people to whom sustainability has not yet been made relevant.” This statement, made by a speaker at the ED 10 Conference in Toronto in April, has significant personal importance to me, and, I suspect, to all of us. The conference was attended by architects, interior designers, and suppliers of green products. These were the “true believers” of sustainability. To be sure, the sustainability wave has swept the building design business over the past few years at a rate of which everyone should be proud.
ARCHI-TECH magazine often features those who’ve worked with architects and suppliers to build models of sustainability. The U.S. Green Building Council, which practically started the green movement in the United States, constantly refines regulations to illuminate the path to sustainability. State and local governments use these standards and others to dictate green building.
So what is left for us to do to integrate sustainability into commercial building designs?
Our challenge as architects, suppliers, and architectural media is to help clients see the payoff at the bottom line that sustainable design can yield. It may require re-education about longer payback times, new education about the latest sustainable building technologies, or a comprehensive view of the interactive effect of total building systems.
Odds are that there is not a Warren Buffett-like megaphilanthropist waiting to fund the continued drive toward universal acceptance of sustainable building design. It’s up to us to help clients understand that what makes sense to the planet also can make sense to the balance sheet.