Green buildings - the way out of crisis?
The symposium of the recently held Barcelona Meeting Point was not packed with people. The crisis in the real estate sector is noticeable. Still, we were a brave bunch to sit in on the session hosted by the Urban Land Institute. The first topic was how to get out of the crisis; the second was about sustainable construction. The conclusion of the whole session, relating the two themes, was that the way out of the crisis is green.
Peter Sweatman from London/Madrid based Climate Change Capital showed for example how their investments in green offices are highly profitable. And it is not that much more expensive. Building to the American Leeds platinum standard should not cost more than 12% more than a normal building, and the savings made on utility bills makes the investment profitable quite soon.
Listening to this panel everyone should be out there investing in green buildings. For sure the trend is increasing but the large-scale uptake is still missing. One of the main barriers is the perception that exists in the real estate sector that green investments are risky and non-profitable, despite the lower risk that a holistic, sustainable approach should imply.
The Smart Energy Home initiative, in which B&W acts as the project office, is aiming to overcome the distorted perceptions that exist, and increase the knowledge necessary to bring the green market-uptake up to scale. The construction sector could get a great boost from taking on the challenge to construct and renovate to green and healthy standards. Just play with the idea of retrofitting all European homes to low-energy buildings. That would make an impact!