To generate growth and revitalize, cities need to attract and develop the necessary top talent critical for building companies and developing new industries. However, this rapid urbanization is not without a cost and places great stress on infrastructure and the environment.
Buildings have a substantial impact on the health and wellbeing of people and the planet. As the urbanization rate continues to rapidly increase, the operation and construction of new buildings takes a toll on the environment. According to the Census Bureau South Florida’s population rose 1.7 percent last year, while Miami-Dade’s grew even faster at 2.1 percent. With these numbers the environmental impact of buildings is becoming increasingly important.
By adapting to advance building techniques, and adopting a new approach to thinking, developers have the power to encourage beneficial, lasting changes where human needs are met without undermining the integrity and balance of the natural system.
Residential real estate developers should consider certifications like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Launched in 2000, LEED, a green building program providing third-party verification of the features and effectiveness of sustainable buildings, was created as a rating system for commercial projects by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). From there, LEED was slowly adapted to work for all types of designs including hospitals to manufacturing plants, showrooms, offices and residential buildings from new construction to major renovations.
The USGBC reported that out of all LEED buildings certified during Q1 of this year, only 36 percent were residential properties. Although this percentage is not unacceptable, the total number of LEED projects over time is more telling. In Florida there are 1,156 registered office and mixed use projects, 972 retail projects, and 1,559 others (education, lodging, healthcare, etc.), compared to 175 registered residential projects.
Applying many of the requirements for LEED building operations and maintenance can result in drastic reductions in energy use, water consumption and heating and cooling demands. In addition to increasing building value and safety while decreasing operating costs, LEED also assesses building materials and other environmental factors such as access to public transportation and responsible land use.
LEED’s holistic approach can combat issues Miami is facing due to rapid urbanization and abundant growth. We are entering a new stage of economic advancement, driven by the interactions between technology, sustainable infrastructure and increased resource production. Through this transformative time, nature can be conserved and restored through sustainable residential developments that satisfy the needs of the present without compromising the quality of life for future generations.
Homes represent a critical piece of the building industry. Not only are they the structures in which we spend a majority of our time, they’re also a sizable and valuable division of the industry as a whole. South Florida developers should consider LEED certification as early in their project as possible, invest in green construction management software and investigate other ways to be more sustainable. A greater commitment to LEED certified residential buildings and efforts to build sustainably could be the solution to issues Miami and other global centers face.
Peter Checa Patjane is an entrepreneur, speaker and visionary real estate developer whose commitment to creating environmentally-focused, quality and sustainable buildings led to the creation of Yourable Group.