Sustainable Design for the 21st Century


by D. Brent Sauser

Happy New Year 2013Happy New Year!  That is not just a salutation, but a sincere hope to all of us.  As a small business owner I am deeply concerned and connected to the “goings-on” in our nation’s capitol.  The decisions they make (or don’t make, as the case may be) has a direct impact on us all.  These are not intangible concepts, but lasting legislation that plays havoc with our bottom line.  Perhaps the following quote says it best:

“Still one thing more, fellow citizens – a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.  This is the sum of good government . . . .”          (Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address)

As citizens we can debate whether that is true or not, and to what degree, but infiscal cliff the final analysis what matters most is how those we elected to fill positions of consequence feel about it.  It is January 1, 2013 and we have now fallen off the “fiscal cliff”.  Our elected officials (in the Senate) worked late into the night to produce a last minute bill that successfully transformed a ripe opportunity to gain real deficit reduction into another “tax and spend” bill, without any spending cuts whatsoever.   The bill has now passed to the House of Representatives for a vote.  I can only guess what they will do.  Once again, the fiscal “can” may be kicked down the road, where it appears our children and grandchildren will be faced with the inevitable consequences.  I recall a popular commercial several years ago.  It was selling margarine with the tag line:  “You can’t fool Mother Nature!”.  Please tell that to our elected politicians. 

So . . . what does this mean to the Net Zero movement?  In my opinion I belieQuestion clipart 1ve the Net Zero “wave” will continue to roll forward regardless of whether true deficit reduction is included or not.  If the current “tax and spend” bill is signed into law unchanged from the Senate version, financial incentives have been included in the bill that directly influence and encourage Net Zero design and construction.  Although this results in spending money we don’t have, investing in building Net Zero contributes to the divesting of dependence on non-renewable energy resources.  Substantially reducing our dependence on the local energy power grid at a large scale is money well spent.  In a very real way, this legislation could serve to help accelerate Net Zero building.  The question is, do we have enough architects, developers, and other like-minded people green building 2with the vision to incorporate Net Zero into their current development plans? is a rich resource of information for those searching for Net Zero ideas. 

However, if by some miracle meaningful deficit reduction is signed into law (which I highly doubt will occur) the need to embrace a Net Zero building approach is even more critical.  Incentives will be few and money very tight.  The commercial community will need to take the lead and seize the opportunity to incorporate Net Zero methods into all building designs.  The result will be less dependence on non-renewable resources and put money back in the pocket of each respective Net Zero building owner by paying reduced energy bills, or have no energy bills if truly Net Zero. 

Please forgive my over-simplifying a very complex economic situation.  In thWe can do ite case of Net Zero, however, I believe it is a movement that (quite simply) will not go away regardless of the direction this recent pending legislation will take us.  If we can learn anything from the doom and gloom of all this “fiscal cliff” rhetoric, it is that WE as citizens have the power within us to effect real and lasting change that will have a positive impact to ourselves, our families, communities, and nation . . . . without having to wait for the government to do it for us.   

It is a new year . . . only hours old.  It is my hope that we will all resolve to adopt a Net Zero sustainable building approach, not because it may be filled with financial incentives, but because it is the right thing to do.   

Happy New Year!

Category: Editorial
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