ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Sustainability 5: Costs

Updated on May 11, 2013
Seek out the blue sky
Seek out the blue sky

When first introduced to concepts of environmentally-friendly or sustainable design in architecture, many initially believe there are substantial costs to be incurred.

There are, however, many sustainable design practices that can not only reduce initial costs, but can also improve eventual returns.  For example, designing a building to be more dense and compact can reduce both the overall costs of initial materials, labor and construction, and the long-term costs of the structure’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Limiting the land area consumed by structures and parking will limit both the costs of their initial development and construction, and the continuing expenses of their maintenance.

When sustainable design practices are deemed to be more costly than traditional design practices, it is often because total life-cycle and continuing costs are not taken into account. Sometimes this is due to an original developer or builder being other than a project’s long-term user; the originator of the project may see no advantage in paying more up front, to achieve savings that accrue over the long haul to someone else.

In many cases, it is the larger society that ends up bearing the true ‘costs’ of a design choice. For example, while it may appear easy and inexpensive initially to fell a grove of trees to build a lodge, hidden costs may become apparent when rainfall washes away topsoil, fouling surface water, preventing the planting of crops, or destabilizing a nearby roadway. And, though it may seem cheap at first to power vehicles with combustion engines fueled by petroleum derivatives, the resultant costs of dirty air, fouled lungs, traffic congestion, and dependence on imports may substantially alter the overall societal ‘cost’ equation.

In recent years, advances have been made in life-cycle costing and analysis to more properly address the sum total of costs and benefits of various design choices. In addition, the concept of ‘embedded energy’ — in which one measures, for example, all the cumulative energy that has been consumed to mine, process, refine, smelt, cast, shape and deliver a steel beam; its embedded energy — has allowed for much more accurate tallies of the true costs of various design and construction materials and processes.

Many may argue about the particular or comparative cost of this or that — a gallon of fuel, a quart of pond scum, a cord of wood, a kilowatt hour generated by wind. My intent here is not to assess absolute costs or to make specific judgments about which costs are tolerable or are best to bear. My intent is to merely point out where costs might lie, and to suggest design features that might sway such costs one way or another.

I ask such questions as: Is there a cost to society in lost green space? How many jobs does a certain design process create or support? Is clean water of value? Does our tax structure favor sustainability? Should we care whether a variety of plant species is sustained for future generations? Can we afford polluted air? Can we do without small woodland creatures? Can we do without small businesses? How can we sustain human society, and our only Earth, with the greatest efficiency, utility and economy?

In successive articles, I try to provide, if not answers, at least some enlightenment.

What to use, and how much will it cost?
What to use, and how much will it cost? | Source


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)