Sustainability – Not Just a Buzz Word

Jacksonville Business Journal, January 21, 2011

By Mary Tappouni

I was recently asked, “Are sustainability and green still relevant?”

Sustainability, in general terms, is a means of meeting the needs of the present without compromising future generations. That concept is more than relevant; it is a necessary ideal for communities like Jacksonville to ensure a prosperous future for its citizens while setting an example for other cities.

Sustainability is not limited to green building, but construction is an area that has significant impact on our lives — something I have learned first-hand in my daily life and business practice. Sustainability in the built environment leads to energy savings, better indoor air quality and water savings as well as providing a healthier way of life for all of us at work, at home and at play through the protection of our natural resources.

It is important that when we think of sustainability, we remind ourselves that it is not a choice that replaces other options facing a community. Sustainability is the thread that weaves its way through all of the critical components of a truly great city. Sustainability is the ideal that forms an umbrella over jobs, education, research and development, economic development, land use, transportation, ecosystems, entertainment and quality of life.

The future of sustainability is evident through recent data provided by McGraw Hill, a leading global education and financial information company. In its report “Green Outlook 2011: Green Trends Driving Growth,” McGraw Hill finds that green or sustainable jobs are “hot tickets” for 2011. While general architecture, engineering and construction jobs have declined in recent years, employment has been on the rise for the design and construction of green projects, totaling about 20 percent of the design and construction job market.

The report also states the value of green building construction accounted for 25 percent of all construction in 2010 and is expected to grow to 50 percent by 2015.

Last year, the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design specification was mentioned in 71 percent of all projects valued at more than $50 million. The American Solar Energy Society also predicts that over the next 25 years, the worldwide market for renewable/solar energy and energy efficiency represents a multitrillion-dollar opportunity for U.S. companies.

These data negate the idea that sustainability/green is not relevant in today’s marketplace. It is not fading — in fact, it is facing its second season in Jacksonville and will bloom fuller and farther to touch all areas of our city’s borders if it is embraced, as it should be, by our citizens and future leadership. I urge our community leaders, our future mayor and city council members, our teachers, students, employees and residents to be open to the possibilities. If we create a truly sustainable environment in all areas, Jacksonville will be a healthy, vibrant and prosperous world-class destination

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