Economist argue that efficiency produces profits, which is why we see mass layoffs and (bizarrely) large payouts for executives. 20th century economists ignored a lot of opportunities for more efficient operations because the costs weren’t put on corporations themselves. The costs of running the business were covered by the governments. There is no better example of this than how companies treat the environment.
An easy example is in Alberta where companies in the tar sands have ransacked vast tracts of land for low-quality bitumen while leaving the costs of cleanup on the government. If companies had to pay for their environmental damage then the tar sands wouldn’t be profitable.
Finally economists have caught up to what environmentalists have been saying for decades: if we don’t act on the damage done to the environment by companies then all companies will suffer (obviously nature suffers more). Recent studies show that not getting to a carbon net-zero economy soon will cost the global economy $30 trillion a year due to ecological destruction.
Sylvan said he was surprised that so many saw net-zero action as “economically desirable, even on the pretty short timeline that we’re talking about.”
Most of the international climate economists questioned for the survey in February said they had become more concerned about climate change over the last five years. The most common reason they gave was the escalation in recent extreme weather events, which have included climate-linked wildfires and heat waves.
Popular building low density developments like then pictured above are really bad for the environment. To truly understand how disastrous low density housing is one needs to consider the physical space taken for one household, the need for a car for mobility, the building materials, and obviously the energy used to maintain the house.
The wastefulness of suburban living led to the Net Zero movement with set out to build living and work spaces that had didn’t negatively impact the environment. The first generation of those buildings have been around for years and we’ve learned a lot from them. The first generation might not have been perfect but they have set out a better way to build the future.
Also mentioned: One Brighton in the UK, built in 2009, was the first major development built using the One Planet Living framework. While the development reduced carbon emissions by 70 percent in comparison with the average neighborhood development, that’s not 100 percent. Still, homes there sell for a 10 percent premium over comparable real estate because of their inherent sustainability and resale value. There are also other benefits: residents who move there sell their cars as they can walk and bike everywhere. No cars means much less spent on transportation and fewer carbon emissions.
As for the future of net-zero communities, Downey sees developers now dictating hard energy performance requirements. For example, in a recent RFP for a new building, Hunter College put in a 100 kwh per square meter performance target.