Thanks to Beaufort County planning director Tony Criscitiello, who wants to incorporate green development requirements into the Beaufort County Comprehensive Plan, the topic of the future of sustainable building practices in Beaufort County is on the table. I suspect that the pro-developer contingent, a stable fixture in our beautiful county, has something to say about the introduction of such forward-thinking initiatives. To be applauded is Mr. Criscitiello’s ability to begin this needed community dialogue, which will be (and always is) the first step towards positive change.
Since moving to Bluffton in 2005, I was surprised to learn about the lack of practicing sustainable guidelines in Beaufort County. Mostly disturbing was the lack of public interest in the topic, especially within the building industry itself. Having worked for a production builder here from 2005 until recently, I was forlorn to discover that not one of my co-workers was familar with “green” building, arguably the fastest growing sector in the building industry. Coming from Chicago, where Mayor Richard M. Daley spearheaded the requirements that all public buildings must meet a certain level of LEED standards, I was disappointed. Beaufort County offered no such vision, until now.
Much debate still exists over LEED implementation and cost effectiveness. Troubling is the knee-jerk reaction that building “green” costs more, while many independent studies suggest otherwise. Southface, a national leader in the world of sustainability based in Atlanta, refers to a Davis Langdon Adamson study which found that the buildings going for LEED certification were actually CHEAPER to build than their non-LEED counterparts. The findings were based on up-front costs, not even including the future savings of maintaining and operating a more energy efficient building, nor the time and money saved from decreased warranty issues, not to mention the added benefits of improved employee health, productivity, and overall increased happiness. Having healthy, productive and happier employees is hard to put a price tag on, as it is invaluable.
This is but one of many studies refuting extra-added costs of green building. Too, we must begin to incorporate the idea of the environmental costs we pass on to our children and their children when we choose to build with the traditional and sometimes archaic methods we now use in Beaufort County which are in need of a collaborative revision. Thanks to Tony Criscitiello, we can all be involved in helping that vision see its implementation in order to find workable solutions for all involved.
The 4-part seminar, “Building on What We Treasure the Most,” needs your support. Please see the schedule below:
Tuesday, May 22nd – Technical College of The Lowcountry Beaufort Auditorium – 7PM
Wednesday, May 23rd – Bluffton Town Hall Auditorium – 7:30PM
USCB DESIGN SYMPOSIUM: Intelligent Design for Sustainable Living II: Thursday, May 24th – USCB, South Campus, Hargray Bldg Rm. 156. Beaufort Campus. 12:30-5:30 PM
Please contact the Beaufort County Planning Department for further details. 843-470-2724.