Co-sponsored by the Dutch Green Building Council, Triodos Bank, and SenterNovem, the PROVADA Green Forum offered a large area of floor space for various innovative companies pursuing sustainable ‘green’ agendas and providing novel technologies and methods to reduce the impact of the built environment on the world. Methods ranged from superior construction (or renovation) methods to improving occupant behavior. On the development side recycled concrete, heat pumps, roof gardens, smart climate control systems, solar and wind energy, lake source cooling, and double façades were among the concepts being touted to eventually reach a goal of producing zero-consumption buildings. On the occupier side a large part depends on educating the tenants, and perhaps passing the costs of poor use on to them. Occupiers can help by properly setting thermostats, turning off the lights, and limiting water use.
A number of informative presentations were offered each day by keynote speakers including Professor Piet Eicholtz, University of Maastricht, Charles Landry, author of the Art of City Making, Drs. Peter Jagers, Dr. Nils Kok, Dutch Minister Jacqueline Cramer, and Dr. Herman Scheer, Member of German Parliament and Chairman of Eurosolar. (For a complete list of speakers see: http://www.provada.nl/congressen2009_detail
.php?congres_id=55. )Some interesting points and sound-bites:
- Sustainable development costs more money but it also returns that money in time; depending on the level of extras involved payoff time for implementing sustainable improvements can vary from 2 years to 20 years.
- Sustainable property is “on the tipping point” of being in great demand and able to return healthy profits.
- Builders tend to construct right up to the mandated minimal energy conservation standards, but not beyond it.
- Better internal atmosphere increases worker productivity and encourages customers to spend more time in stores.
- Companies desiring a ‘green image’ are willing to pay substantially more for sustainable office space.
- In well controlled studies in the US, ‘green offices’ showed 16-17% higher values, 7.5% higher occupancy rates, and rents of 2-3% more than ‘non-green’ offices. (A smaller US based study showed similar trends in the retail sector.)
- Investors should not only concern themselves with what tenants want today, but with what they will want in 10 years.
- An extensive study on the Dutch residential market showed that homes with well performing energy labels sold for 3.5-5.4% more; for apartments that increased to 4.7-6.6% more.
- Part of the appeal for sustainable development is emotion, and this emotion should be utilized to drive the process.
- The international scramble for cheap and renewable energy is intensifying.
- Germany, a world leader in sustainable energy, has tripled it’s renewable energy supply since 2000. Excess energy from renewable sources returned to the grid is bought at fixed prices and given priority to excess capacity from fossil fuel plants.
- Large oil, gas, coal, and nuclear companies have everything to lose from the spread of renewable energy sources and every reason to continue efforts at blocking and slowing this process. The current monopoly of a handful of centralized power suppliers can be spread out to many, many more, shifting ownership from the current transnational monopoly to many thousands of individual owners.
- There is good news and bad news: The bad news is oil is running out. The good news is oil is running out.