Triple Bottom Line And Sustainable Development Anthropology Essay

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On their website BREEAM promises market recognition for low environment impact buildings, which shows that the sustainability is market driven.

Until quite recently, governments and business have not included ecosystem services in their cost accounting. According the The Case for Sustainable Landscapes, people often underestimate or simply ignore the benefits of ecosystem services when making land-use decisions - only to realize later how expensive and sometimes impossible it is to replicate them once they are lost.

In the past two decades various rating systems have been developed in order to assess the impact buildings have on the environment, society and the economy from a sustainability point of view. This provides a means of quantification that takes into account all the factors of sustainable development. The outcome is expressed as a rate...

LEED - In the USA, the LEED system was developed from 1993 onwards. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a certification system developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). According to the introduction on the LEED website, the system provides a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design. LEED regards certain concepts as metrics for measuring sustainability; such as energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor air quality and stewardship of resources, and sensitivity to their impacts. The rating tool has been adapted in order to be applicable to various building types, both commercial and residential:


Core and shell construction

New construction

Existing buildings

Commercial interiors

BREEAM - In the United Kingdom, the Building Research Establishment (BRE) developed the BREEAM - BRE Environmental Assessment Method - rating system from 1990 onwards. It is defined as a design and management stage assessment tool that provides a credible, transparent label for buildings based on good practice (Anderson; Shiers). According to the BREEAM website, the environmental performance of any type of building can be assessed - that includes new and existing buildings. Standard versions of BREEAM exist for common building types, but less common building types can be assessed against tailored criteria under the Bespoke BREEAM version. BREEAM also makes provision for buildings outside the UK with BREEAM International.

Green Star SA - The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) developed the Green Star Rating tool, of which the first version was launched in 2008. It is based on the model from the Australian Green Building Council. Its aim is to provide objective measurement for green buildings and to recognize and reward environmental leadership in the property industry. Currently there is a rating tool available for offices, and a pilot rating tool for retail centres. These tools can be applied to new buildings or for "As Built" certification.

To understand the interrelationship between the components of the triple bottom line, it is necessary to quantify the value of each component in order to ensure that the balance required is sustained. One way of making the economic, social and environmental benefits comparable to each other, is by attaching monetary value to each component. This provides a common metric. However, from a societal perspective, people attach value to cultural and spiritual things too. The value of the environment must also be seen in the context of environmental services offered, but also in the aesthetic etc.

Carbon currency

As noted in The Case for Sustainable Landscapes, direct comparisons of the cost of using sustainable land practices instead of traditional land practices are just beginning to be made. This holds true for the rest of the building industry. Since the advent of rating systems, projects that are designed according to the guidelines in these rating systems can now be compared to previous projects of the same relative scope. Such a cost comparison was made in two different landscape designs in Santa Monica, California, where one landscape was designed as a traditional garden, and the other a sustainable native garden. The native garden requires 77 percent less water, produces 66 percent less green waste and costs 68 percent less for maintenance than the traditional garden CITATION - THE Case for sustainable landscapes.


The fact that these building rating systems exist, and that they address both social, environmental and economic issues proves that there is a need to quantify sustainability in a way that is not only linked to monetary value. Expressing the value as a monetary sum remains important in order to get the buy-in from investors, which form the economic leg of sustainability.

According to The Green Guide to Specification, property investors and funding institutions, under pressure from shareholders and insurers, are seeking 'greener' and more 'socially responsible' approach to the design and procurement of buildings. The property investors, funding institutions, shareholders and insurers represent the economic leg of the triple bottom line, and their demand is for the other two legs to be addressed through design. This shows that the mindset is correct for sustainability. The work that Dr. Brundtland started has sunken into the consciousness of the driving forces behind development.

Building rating systems arose out of a need to quantify sustainability in a way that is not only linked to monetary value. These rating systems take into account the full spectrum of the triple bottom line and produce a quantified value. This proves that the sole motive is not only greed, that material gain is not the only driving force. However, in order to market sustainable building practices it is necessary to put the numbers on the table. The product needs to be sold and needs to have the data to sell it. A product cannot be sold to a client without a price tag.