Environmental stewardship is at the center of our design and build practice.
Because our work lasts for decades or even centuries, those of us who are remodelers, architects, and builders have a special responsibility. Consider the goal of 80% greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2050, for instance: If we do our job right, the major renovation we complete on your home this year will easily still be in service in 2050. So the question we need to ask ourselves is this: In 2050, will those living in the homes we've worked on be thinking we really knew how to plan ahead, or will they be thinking we may have missed some key opportunities?
We understand that very few (if any) of you will be in your current homes in 2050, and that some may find it borderline ridiculous to think that far ahead. But almost all of your homes will still be very much part of the built environment 40 years from now. It's projected that, in Massachusetts, at least 80% of the homes that will be in use in 2050 are already standing.
At Byggmeister, we are trying to account for the fact that our work will have a service life measured in decades, and to anticipate resource availability over the next several decades to determine what our current standards should be. As part of this stewardship responsibility, we're looking at three ways homes consume resources: energy for heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting, and appliances; water for hygiene and landscaping; and maintenance efforts required to keep it all working well and looking nice.
Energy. Here, we're looking at what an appropriate energy "budget" for a home might be over time—by the year 2050, how much energy should your house be consuming, for economic and environmental reasons, and what's the best way for us to get it moving down a path to that target goal?
Water. Although most of the communities we work in are lucky to get their water from the MWRA, which, in its own words, "has one of the most abundant and high quality water supplies in the world," we shouldn't be needlessly profligate with that water. There are easy and painless ways our homes can significantly reduce their water usage, help to maintain the abundance of regional fresh water, and thereby buffer us from the severe distress anticipated for less water-rich parts of the world.
Maintenance. Maintenance and remodeling are expensive, and use a lot of resources. To the extent that we can establish and meet rigorous standards with regard to the durability and health of your home over time, we will significantly reduce those resources (financial and otherwise) required to keep your home functioning well and looking good.
We're in the midst of quantifying what the goals described above should really mean, so we can measure and monitor success. It's easy to claim to be "green" if there's no quantifiable goal or outcome for those green efforts.
Thus, we are hoping to be able to put real numbers to questions such as "How long should wood siding hold paint, before it needs recoating?" and "What's the most appropriate amount of water an eastern Massachusetts home really needs to function satisfactorily?" and "What level of energy usage reduction do we need to aim for over the course of this renovation to stand a chance of having this house meet a 80% greenhouse gas emissions goals by 2050?"
By defining our "green" efforts in these measurable ways, and being transparent about our successes and failures, we're hoping to become even better stewards of our region's existing homes—and to work with you, our clients, to do work that looks great today, and will look even better many decades down the road.