Sunday, October 30, 2011

What is triple-bottom-line real estate development?

Many of us know that the triple bottom line means “people, planet and profit”, being economically, socially and environmentally beneficial. That is, expanding the traditional reporting framework to take into account ecological and social performance in addition to financial performance (Wikipedia).
So what does this mean for real estate development? What would triple bottom line real estate development look like? Keep in mind this is about the real estate development industry, not about the city or neighborhood as a whole, which is obviously more important, but a separate focus nonetheless.

- It’s financially viable to the real estate developers and investors. Many say that developers make too much money and some say they shouldn’t make any. That of course is unrealistic, as real estate development is a hugely risky industry (just witness the recent state of affairs) and it’s not like they’re dominating the Fortune 500. Really though, the real estate developers that sincerely care about and work with the local residents are often embraced as heroes, while the ones that don’t are seen as villains. Simple as that.

- The development is LEED-ND certified and the buildings are LEED certified. The U.S. Green Building Council has established a reputable standard by which to make developers accountable when going green. It covers just about any kind of green consideration you can think of, from rainwater barrels to alternatives to car ownership.
- Housing and transportation options that reduce carbon footprints are available. As stated, the opportunity to live in smaller units (heating/cooling of buildings has the largest carbon footprint) and walk or bike (transportation is second) to destinations is the best one can do to be green.

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