Is sustainability dead in the property industry?

xkcd_sustainableA great reflective piece from Romilly Madew, CEO, Green Building Council of Australia on whether sustainability is dead.

Romilly describes the positives of the trends being seen “Harvard Business Review has called sustainability a ‘megatrend’ akin to the industrial and information technology revolutions because it is dramatically refashioning the way we do business” and “Trendwatching’s most recent briefing has identified ‘eco-superior’ as a long-term trend, arguing that these days even “carbon-neutral won’t cut it”.

We have certainly found that from Cundall’s perspective that although we have been carbon neutral for over 10 years it just wasn’t cutting it for us so we took the ambitious path of becoming the world’s first One Planet Company endorsed by Bio-Regional.

But Romilly also touched on the ‘green fatigue’ sighting a recent online poll where ” ‘green’ recently voted one of our industry’s most despised buzzwords?”

I even contemplated a similar notion back in February this year – Tech Killed the Green Star.

Romily’s summary is spot on “We all want health, happiness and to live in harmony. That’s the aim of sustainability – and that’s the message we need to sell. Sustainability is not dead – but it is time to breathe new life into it.”

I believe that people also want truth, integrity, transparency – real sustainability,  and unfortunately the word ‘green’ in nearly all industries has become synonymous with greenwash.

Green was the right word for the first step to a sustainable future but we need to kill the word green – “the fools good” – to enable the next step towards a sustainable future whilst at the same time as preparing for our sustainability.

So yes the word ‘green’ is falling out of favour, but the desire, need and the valuing of true sustainability has yet to even take off.

The answer to Romilly’s opening question of “Is sustainability dead?” is ‘no’, but if the question was “Is green dead?” then I think that would be a yes.

The word Green and Sustainability are therefore not interchangable.

We need to move quickly to a clear definition and measurement of “sustainable buildings” and I believe the Ecological Footprinting of our buildings is the next step to creating a sustainable property industry.

3 Comments on “Is sustainability dead in the property industry?

  1. I agree with lots of what you say – but I think that in our rush to come up with ‘clear definitions and measurement’ of sustainability (which I assume is one strategy you are proposing to help address greenwash?), we run the risk of killing what we are trying to save or improve.
    I wrote a response to someone who wrote a post about banning the word ‘sustainability’ (although I admit that I may not have done his article justice): http://pipmarks.com/2013/10/14/why-policy-makers-and-communicators-need-to-understand-the-technology-adoption-bell-curve/
    Cheers Pip

    • Hi Pip. Well said. The measure of what is sustainable is evolving every day. My favorite quote at the moment is from Warren buffet – it is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong.

  2. Pingback: Has apathy killed the environmentalist star? « SIMON WILD

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