For some, green building and sustainability are aspirational goals. For those of us that have been working in sustainability on a professional level, we are always on the lookout for the next evolution in third party standards and certification to take our projects to the next level.
Beyond “net zero” energy and water — in which a project produces as much, if not more, energy and or water than it will use — the next step in sustainability is a concept known as regenerative design. Described as a process-based approach to design, the goal is to “restore, renew or revitalize their own sources of energy and materials, creating sustainable systems that integrate the needs of society with the integrity of nature.”
To that end, Martin Brown has authored a book called FutuREstorative, Working Towards a New Sustainability. In an excerpt from the book, published at GreenBiz, Brown advocates for the establishment of a new third party standard for regenerative design:
While challenging traditional sustainability standards is now urgent and vital, it is important to remember that new regenerative standards start from different perspectives. The established certification standards (BREEAM, LEED, Green Star) emerged from an energy-environment-economics paradigm whose key driver was, and remains, energy performance and prevention of damage to the environment, within economic boundaries.
New restorative standards such as the Living Building Challenge and WELL Building Standard are, foremost, philosophies based on a set of ecological or health values. Secondly, they are advocacy tools for promoting a better way of addressing the design, construction and operation of buildings. Thirdly, they are a building certification or recognition-of-achievement scheme…
But it is a disruption that is necessary. And in many ways the scene is set, with the digitalization of design, construction and operation through Building Information Management approaches, the increase in smart, Internet of Things technologies in buildings, the popularity of the LEED Dynamic Plaque and other real-time sustainability monitors. All of which have the potential, individually or more rapidly through converging, to disrupt sustainability standards.
Well worth a read, if for no other reason than to catch a glimpse of where sustainability in the built environment is headed to next.