Are you a victim of the misconception that Green Practices are always more expensive? Many are victims of this due to the effect of businesses constantly trying to sell something to you. Companies capitalize on encouraging consumers to purchase something to go green. Most of the gadgets and appendages will provide positive savings in the future, but they also tend to have higher initial costs associated with them.
The approach to sustainable design should be to design a project as if it were your own investment. This mindset requires the designer to be much more cost-sensitive, creative, and design in the most livable way. In the quest of saving money, simple standards should be challenged that have become conventional development practices. For example, if the standard is to have a 36-ft wide road in a residential neighborhood, the dimension should be questioned, dissected and innovated. Ask yourself, do people park on the street, or is there a covenant for no on-street parking? When the standard is dissected, you may discover that the width of the street could be only 22-ft in width and substantial infrastructure savings can be found. On-street parking can still be accommodated, but potentially in ways that may not be considered, as Jed Selby and Katie Urban implemented in South Main.
A few years ago, prior to the release of the book, The Original Green by Steve Mouzon, I attended a presentation of Steve’s that I completely identified with. This was the common sense approach that Steve developed that would later become known as The Original Green. Steve’s approach is that in order for a building to be sustainable, it must be Lovable, Durable, Flexible and Frugal. He also states that in order for a place to be sustainable, it must be nourishable, accessible, serviceable and securable. Development with this philosophy is a common sense approach.
Green Practices are dependent on the consultant who is hired to recommend the green improvements whether that is an architect, planner, landscape architect, etc. A lot of green practices can be, and should be, imbedded into the design process and definitely not as an after-thought.
Decreasing the width of a road, removing curbs, reuse of existing parking lots and careful plant selection may not be sexy green practices that boast to your neighbors that you are going green. However, the effects often yield faster ROI’s (return on investment) and initial construction cost savings.