How Developers Can Overcome the Sustainability Gap
How do we build an inclusive,sustainable, resilient future for people and the planet? One hundred seventy-three world leaders asked that question five years ago this month at an historic UN summit. The result was the adoption of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that collectively create a roadmap to promote prosperity for all people while protecting the planet.
We at EchoStone believe that housing –sustainable, healthy, affordable housing – is at the center of the SDGs. Our mission is to empower governments, developers, and NGOs to provide exactly this for their communities by:
Partnering with Allies in Sustainable Development
Sustainability is embedded in EchoStone’s company culture and is a key driver of our values and mission. As a participant in the UN Global Compact for sustainable development, our commitment to the UN SDGs underpins our mission, and we recognize our responsibility to operate in ways that contribute to advancing progress on these critical issues. Every aspect of our corporate structure, design and construction practices and final product advances some aspects of the SDGs. As a global company, we understand that our actions must positively impact the communities and clients we serve.
Increasing Construction Efficiencies
Using the SDGs as our foundation, EchoStone is literally re-engineering how homes are built, putting us at the forefront of sustainable construction. Buildings generate nearly 40 percent of annual global greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted into the atmosphere, and one critical avenue for achieving the SDGs is to radically change community planning and construction practices. EchoStone projects create low-carbon communities where the energy cycle is considered at the outset and planned in the most holistic way possible to reduce the urban heat island effect. Our master planning process protects surface and ground water resources, minimizes erosion and runoff, and seeks to preserve valuable agricultural soils. To achieve this, EchoStone uses proprietary state-of-the-art construction technology that is designed to consume fewer resources, reduce embodied carbon, and reduce construction waste compared to traditional construction methods. As a consequence, our technology minimizes impacts on the environment while being able to build rapidly and at scale with high quality results.
Offering Sustainable Products
As a consequence of this holistic approach, homes built using EchoStone technology cost less to build, cost less to operate, and need less maintenance over the long-term. All homes constructed using our approach have met the World Bank Group IFC EDGE Program requirements for sustainable buildings. Further, our projects in Nigeria have been awarded EDGE Advanced certification for energy savings of 40 percent higher than local traditional housing construction. Our cellular lightweight concrete (CLC) technology means that the interiors of our houses are cooler than traditional designs, reducing the need for mechanical cooling, further reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions.
Re-imagining How & Why We Build
Using our methodology and technology, we are making strides to fulfilling the UN’s SDGs: our affordable homes help to alleviate poverty (SDGs 1); the water saving devices that we incorporate into every house and our water and sewer infrastructure promotes clean water and sanitation (SDG 6); our communities provide families a safe and healthy environment in which to grow and thrive, contributing to economic growth (SDG 8) and making cities more livable (SDG 11); and our methods reduce waste both during and after construction (SDG 12). While these are the most evident that our work addresses, EchoStone strives to advance all of the SDGs throughout its operations.
In this time, when the world is wrestling with a lethal pandemic and governments are calling for people to quarantine, the need for housing that provides healthy, safe shelter with the ability to practice basic hand-washing is critical. More than ever, good housing is key to maintaining global health.
The 2015 summit leaders called on all sectors, public and private, to align their practices to implement these goals, with the hope of achieving them by 2030. With only ten years left for us to realize the targets of the SDGs, it’s time to re-imagine how we build and why we build.
EchoStone provides sustainable construction systems and services for affordable housing developers around the world to reduce housing deficits. www.echostonehousing.com