Imperative Green Building
We try to understand what we mean by Green Building and how we get to the Green Building Council.
First of all, let’s say that, in the last decades, as a consequence of the increasing evidence of environmental problems – pollution, scarce water resources, climate change … – society has rapidly changed and has developed a new awareness of issues such as sustainability, innovation , quality, design. Considering that, as Paul Hawken said (The HOK Guidebook to Sustainable Design) “The construction sector is not only the largest industrial sector in economic terms, but also in terms of resource use”, this awareness has generated an incredible increase in question regarding the quality of real estate assets and the impact that the built environment generates on the ecosystem but also on the health and lifestyle of people; this has led to a sudden change of course at the international level in the design of buildings, neighborhoods and even in the way of understanding the entire city. The theme of the quality of real estate assets, expensive, complex and strongly impacting systems, can no longer be dealt with single dimensional logics, so the focus can not be energy saving alone, but it is necessary to address the building system by combining different aspects: the actual quality of the building product is related to the performance but also to the impact on the environmental and social sphere, in other words, it is necessary to address the issue of sustainability of the built environment of Green Building: buildings designed, built and managed in a manner sustainable and efficient determining positive effects and consequences not only on the environment but also on the well-being of people and the healthiness of the places. The debate around the Green Building led naturally to the birth, everywhere in the world, of Community focused on the theme of achieving sustainability, among the most impacting and active communities we find the Green Building Council (GBC).
What are the Green Building Councils and how do they operate?
The Green Building Councils are not for profit associations and interpret an inclusive model, we can say unique, in the sense that they do not represent any single trade association but are participated by all the profit and non-profit organizations interested in the world of built environment. The mission of the GBC is to guide the entire building sector in the sustainable transformation of the built environment in order to obtain a more healthy, safe, comfortable and efficient inhabited space. To this end, all the players in the supply chain participate in the GBC: designers, builders, producers, public administrations, universities, property developers, facility managers … thinking not on the simple design or construction of the Asset but on the entire life cycle interpreting the logic of LCA – life cycle assesment – and of LCC – life cycle costing. The different GBCs of the different countries coordinate and recognize themselves in a meta association called World GBC and operate according to the principle of subsidiarity, in the sense that they provide, both to the Public Administration and the private market, concrete and applicable tools to go in the direction of sustainability collaborating also with public bodies and bridging the possible legislative gap through actions to spread the culture of sustainability and creating voluntary tools and practical application. They do not provide products or projects but rules for implementing sustainable interventions and systems for measuring the level of sustainability achieved by an intervention, be it a single building, a district or an entire city.
So, summing up, the GBC were born with the goal of achieving asset sustainability, a social need that has consequently been transformed into a market demand, but how is the quality / sustainability of a real estate asset measured?
To answer this question / need of the market, the Community / GBC have created tools, the so-called Energy-Environmental Protocols Rating System. These are holistic tools, measure and allow you to appreciate performance and advantages in addition to energy saving, including the healthiness of inhabited environments, the enhancement of land reclamation (when necessary), the reduction of water consumption, waste management (both during construction and in building management), accessibility and transport, hydrogeological structure, biodiversity, economic and social quality, the logic of circular economy and sharing economy and the creation of new professional skills at the green building.
Does the world of finance show any interest in the sustainability of real estate assets?
The focus on measurability, and therefore on these tools, can also be defined as the search for a “certifiable” quality of the intervention in order to mitigate the associated risks. This aspect is particularly clear and known by international finance, the assessment of the risk linked to the quality of the property, not just its geographical location, is now a prerequisite and tending will no longer be a niche issue even in Italy, but a indispensable condition to recall the investments of companies and families whose propensity and spending capacity will be increasingly constrained to the search for safe investments. This evidence is required above all in relation to urban and territorial regeneration, an area where joint public and private action can develop significant economic and social benefits. Especially for Italy the theme of “building regeneration” is of crucial importance. If we consider the composition of the Italian building stock, it is interesting to note that about 30% of the Italian building stock was built before 1945 and constitutes a particular area of interest in relation to both sustainability and restoration and conservation interventions. therefore a great historical-cultural heritage peculiarity of our country. Much is also moving in Italy, for example we are collaborating on an Italian level with a European work group under the auspices of the World GBC called “Action Plan on Mortgages for Energy Efficiency”. It is an innovative project that aims to establish an approach European municipality to evaluate, finance and reward green mortgages, with the aim of increasing the use of private finance in encouraging the green building market to achieve the European climate targets.
Evidently, considering that in the world there are more than 100 GBC, the question of sustainability of the market is very important, can the entity be measured in some way?
The size of the demand is measurable according to the many buildings that are currently being built in the world following the Green Building protocols, the data are very significant, at international level it is more than 3 billion square meters of buildings sustainable for over a trillion of dollars. There is also a large literature (UNEP analysis, research, World GBC, McGraw-Hill Construction, Dodge Data and Analitics, to name a few) that highlights how this market niche doubles every three years and is an engine of innovation and market for the entire supply chain, for example in Europe the market of materials, products and systems that follow the dictates of sustainable building in continuous growth.