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Nature_and_Environment.90

Ethical architecture

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{Nature_and_Environment.90.4}: ... {wren1111} Tue, 24 Feb 2009 23:30:16 CST (HTML)

The Unburdening of America "http://www.originalgreen.org/OG/Blog/Entries/2009/2/23_The_Unburdeni ng_of_America.html"

When people make lots of money, a perverse thing happens. You would think that with more money, people would demand better stuff. But when prosperity abounds, the necessity of thinking long-term decreases.

When times are tough, however, the thought of replacing a tool, a piece of furniture, or whatever on a frequent basis is really frightening... we simply cannot afford to do that. So I believe that the Meltdown will begin to cause people to think long-term again, and to begin to value enduring things.

Purchasing enduring things after a long run of buying throwaway stuff is really difficult because the enduring stuff costs more money when you buy it, even though its life cycle cost is much lower. Take buildings, for example. A 1,000-year building probably costs 50% more than a 35-year building... but over the 1,000 years, we and our descendants only have to build it once, whereas we and our descendants have to build 30 or so of the 35-year buildings. So the life-cycle cost of going the short-term route is twenty times higher than going the long-term route.

“But wait,” you say, “I’ll only be living in that house seven years! And I’ll only be alive another 30 or 40 years! Why should I possibly care about a 1,000-year building?” Good questions. There are several answers. First, when you sell that house in seven years, which do you think will produce a better return: selling a house with 20% (7 years/35 years) of its useful life drained since you bought it, or a house that’s built for the ages? Next, a building designed to last several centuries naturally has much lower maintenance than one that won’t even last as long as your lifetime. Which would you rather maintain? And doesn’t it mean something to you to ease the burden on your children, their children, and those that come after then? Of course it does. But the very same people who go to great lengths with their estate planners usually have not, at least until now, thought of the implications upon their children and grandchildren of buying things and building buildings that do not endure. But now, it really is time to remove that heavy burden from their shoulders. Let’s do the right thing, and do the sensible thing, and start buying and building to last!

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