The Advantages of Sustainable Development with Accredited Staff
In an era marked by increasing concerns about environmental resilience and social equity, sustainable development is no longer just a buzzword – it’s the new “business as usual”. Sustainable development encompasses a wide range of practices aimed at reducing or eliminating the negative impact of human activities on the environment while fostering healthy and equitable communities.
In this piece, we’ll explore the numerous advantages of sustainable development practices, with a particular focus on the valuable role of sustainable professional accreditations in achieving these goals.
What are the Advantages of Sustainable Development?
The advantages of sustainable development are multifaceted, extending across the natural and built environments, social systems, and the economy. Approaches must be forward-thinking and use a wide lens to evaluate potential impacts. From protecting natural resources to emphasizing active transportation, when community building aligns with sustainable practices, quality of life is improved for all.
Resource Efficiency and Cost Savings
One of the most significant advantages of sustainable development lies in its resource efficiency and cost-saving potential. With an emphasis on more efficient use of resources, sustainable design results in long-term savings that have the potential to outweigh initial investment. For example, water conservation measures and low-impact development (LID) strategies can significantly reduce water bills and alleviate the strain on local water resources over the long-term, which are becoming increasingly scarce in many areas.
Additionally, sustainable buildings incorporate energy-efficient features such as daylighting and insulation, leading to reduced energy consumption and lower energy costs. Over time, these designs pay dividends by reducing both operational costs and energy-use intensity, which is a key objective of the AIA 2030.
Resilience in Design
As our planet faces increasingly unpredictable and extreme environmental conditions, designing projects with resilience in mind becomes paramount. These projects often use more durable materials and construction methods that extend the lifespan of structures, reducing waste and future maintenance and replacement costs. This resilience extends to addressing challenges like climate change, seismic activity, and flooding – ensuring that projects remain functional during times of external stressors due to extreme weather, instability or resource challenges. Many of the services provided by this type of infrastructure are critical – hospitals, power generation facilities, emergency services, and essential ecosystem services.
Low impact development (LID) and stormwater planning for instance are crucial aspects of resilience. With growing concerns from disasters like wildfire and flooding making certain areas uninsurable, resiliency planning can help mitigate the growing threats as well as the associated costs of damage and recovery.
Property Value and Market Demand
In the world of vertical construction, properties with sustainability certifications often command higher market values than their non-certified counterparts. As sustainability becomes a more prominent concern for individuals and businesses, certification from frameworks like LEED, WELL, and SITES can significantly impact the demand for properties. Prospective buyers and tenants increasingly seek out environmentally friendly spaces that result in healthier and more productive spaces, making certified properties more appealing and valuable across markets.
Healthier Communities and Biodiversity
Sustainable development also contributes to the creation of healthier communities and supports biodiversity in several ways. Indoor spaces benefit from improved air quality and other features that enhance occupant health and productivity. Outdoor spaces, too, play a crucial role, as sustainable development often involves projects like rain gardens, brownfield cleanups, and habitat restoration efforts. These initiatives not only enhance the aesthetics of the community but also contribute to the well-being of the natural world on which we all rely.
Reducing carbon emissions collectively improves the health of communities by mitigating the impacts of climate change while also creating greater mobility and community connectivity. Acknowledging and rewarding such efforts is crucial to fostering a sense of responsibility for our environment.
The Value of Professional Accreditations on a Project Team
Having staff with sustainable accreditations on a project team can be vital to the successful implementation of the practices discussed above. Various sustainability certification frameworks, each with its own unique processes and criteria, require expertise to navigate effectively. Having accredited team members streamlines the certification process, is often a requirement, and ensures that projects meet the rigorous sustainability standards set by these frameworks.
Multiple Disciplines Working Toward a Common Goal
Sustainable design takes shape in a variety of ways and across all phases of project development. From meeting – or exceeding – formal sustainable certification goals to simply finding efficiencies, a team with a diverse skillset brings a holistic perspective to the entire process.
Taking this multidisciplinary approach maximizes collaboration between a diverse and deep understanding of how sustainability applies to interconnected project elements, which can be critical to delivering on green goals. Equally as important is bringing these teams together early and keeping them engaged from project conception through construction and commissioning.
Streamlining the Certification Process
Accredited team members play a pivotal role in streamlining the certification process. Given the variations in certification frameworks, their expertise ensures that the project team selects the most suitable framework, understands the available design and reporting options, and efficiently navigates the submittal process. This knowledge helps the project progress smoothly towards achieving, verifying, and communicating its sustainability goals.
Obtaining and Maintaining Sustainable Accreditation
Earning and maintaining sustainability accreditation is an ongoing process. As the industry quickly innovates, new techniques and case studies routinely become available to advance our understanding and practical implementation of what is considered “sustainable design”. Keeping up on those is also a requirement of keeping an accreditation.
Individuals value their accreditation as a mark of expertise and commitment to sustainability. Organizations like Otak support their accredited staff by encouraging them to earn and maintain their accreditations. Through initiatives like our OtakU, staff members have opportunities to enhance their skills and keep their knowledge current.
Designing for sustainability offers a multitude of advantages, from resource efficiency and cost savings to healthier communities and enhanced biodiversity. Having an accredited project team is instrumental in realizing these benefits, as it streamlines the certification process and ensures that projects meet the highest sustainability standards. With the increasing importance of sustainability in today’s world, having accredited staff members on your team is not just an asset – it’s a necessity for creating a better, more sustainable future.