The effects of materials used?
‘We can identify two types of labels for sustainable buildings in the Netherlands. The obligatory EPC label only takes energy performance into account as a result of double glazing or the thickness of walls and cavities. The materials used in the construction don’t count towards achieving that label. Voluntary labels such as BREEAM and LEED are more holistic and also account for location, how green a roof is, and use of sustainable materials. This second group of labels has created a community of engineers who know everything about how the use of certain materials can influence the label allocation process. For this second group of labels, engineers can then give much more input to the architect by saying, ‘If you do it this way, it will result in a LEED Gold label, but if you do this and that, then you’ll get LEED Platinum.’ After all, the engineer is hired by the investor.’
Familiarity among architects
‘There are a number of architects who talk about sustainability from a moralistic point of view. Unfortunately, that doesn’t do enough to convince investors such as pension funds, because their purpose is not to improve the world. Their ‘moral duty’ is to ensure that people who are entitled to pensions receive what they have spent decades saving for. Therefore, you have to think in their terms and ask, ‘What’s in it for the investor?’ What’s the risk? What’s the return? If there’s an imbalance, then they may as well stop right there. So, as an architect or contractor working for a developer and investor, it’s better to first review what the shareholder wants. You need to speak their financial language. We know it’s not rocket science, as the returns on sustainable buildings are much higher. If you’d ask me, that’s a much better way of selling it to investors compared with moralistic fingerwagging.’