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Saving Money; Sustainable Design Solutions

Enhancing Community Doesn’t Need to be Expensive

Well planned environments should:

  • Provide opportunities for people to interact
  • Accommodate the needs of the people who use the places
  • Have a strong aesthetic value
  • Be cost-effective

Finally, they should stand the test of time.

Enhancing community and saving money through sustainable design solutions are not mutually exclusive; you can, and should do both.

Today, I read an article by Stephanie Norton (CADdetails.com) about Sustainable Community Design.  She quotes the Brundtland Commission, which defines sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Think of that statement in terms of what too often happens with land development practices.  The developer thinks “short-term”, opting for the least cost components without considering the long-term operations and maintenance costs associated with the particular design.

This quote from Natural Capitalism is actually quite telling:

“Design is really just applied foresight. It’s what you do now carefully and responsibly to achieve what you want later.”

Natural Capitalism, pg. 111

It really is true – “Skimping on design is myopic”.

Value engineering focuses only on reducing the cost of each individual component rather than considering a total systems approach – optimizing a site’s total development as a whole:  grading, drainage, plantings, preservation of existing vegetation, and irrigation.  The fact of the matter is that in the case of landscape development, the costs of ongoing maintenance  of the design will far exceed the initial cost of the installation over the life of the landscape.  Therefore, it becomes important to evaluate the impact of design decisions; they will impact the “bottom line” for a long time!

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2 comments to Saving Money; Sustainable Design Solutions

  • Scott

    This is really a cool site! I wish it had been around when I was in college. I especially love your notion that saving money and sustainable design solutions are not mutually exclusive. I totally agree with that! I look forward to checking back in.

  • Everybody thinks of “value engineering” as ways to save money, but few people consider the long terms costs those short term VE changes are going to have on a project.

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