What does being Future Proof ™ mean?
I’m not a psychic, and I can’t predict everything about the future, but there are a few universal truths that I would like to express through this post that will hopefully demonstrate why our society needs to plan ahead with more than just “cost”, “me” and “now” in mind.
These points may seem idealistic, however it is worth noting that making these considerations a standard in our society won’t negatively impact our way of life, on the contrary these considerations will improve our lives in ways most people would never consider. Future posts will tie these concepts together.
1) People’s awareness of the situation, problem, implications and solutions facing our planet and society need to more prevalent and easily accessible. Only with this information and consciousness will people be able to make the best decisions. The media does a poor job of showing us what is really going on in our world. Combine this with most peoples short attention spans, and it is no wonder that solutions are not more easily visible.
2) Components of a system or items themselves should use resources efficiently and be built to last. You have probably heard the saying “they don’t make em like they used to,” well in a “market economy” where profits are dependent upon sales and the price of goods must continually drop to move product, this is usually by design. There is even a term for it… manufactured obsolescence. In a world where resources are becoming more costly and are often squandered, there is great need and availability to utilize waste and turn it into opportunity. When it comes to long-term investments such as buildings and infrastructure, it should become a priority that these assets be planned out with more than cost being the limiting factor in their creation. Consider that the creation of a long-term asset gains value over time and holds value while money by its very nature continually looses value.
3) We need to cut loads, use fewer materials, put less in landfills and design products to take on future uses or be reclaimed once their useful life is complete. This doesn’t just relate to buildings, but to every aspect of our lives. The book “Cradle to Cradle” describes this very well.
4) We need to use less energy. This can easily be accomplished through conscious energy usage, implementing better design, incorporating renewable energy or through efficiency achieved through more efficient components and commissioning. For example, to Future Proof ™ a building to incorporate renewable energy, simply consider what could be done to reduce the cost to install renewable energy in the future.
5) The things that we consume on a regular basis should not have to go around the world (sometimes several times through their production cycle) to reach their end user. If the true cost of the end products was actually paid by consumers, this would greatly shift the way we look at what we consume. Thankfully 3D printing will make virtually all products locally made in the future.
6) The things that we surround ourselves with should not poison us. This applies to the things we put in our houses, into our bodies, into the environment and even the people and attitudes that our society celebrates.
7) Food that can be grown locally and even organically if resources are planned well, should not have to be flown thousands of kilometers to reach a dinner plate. We could plan and build infrastructure that could accomplish this, creating a much higher level of food security and health within our local communities.
8) In North America we have become addicted to the automobile. While it is still a tool that has given people a great deal of freedom, buildings and neighborhoods need to be planned and developed to be more people friendly. This is happening in many parts of the world right now because people are the reason we build cities and society, not automobiles.
9) Fossil fuel usage is not only an addiction in our society, but it is damaging the air, water, climate and the species with which the human race evolved and depends on. Fossil fuels have brought our species great wealth and advantage in the last 150 years, however they are shown to be causing serious problems thus the burning of fossil fuels should be mitigated to the greatest extent possible. Watch the video below to see a road map of how reducing our dependence is the greatest economic opportunity of our time.
10) The money used to create a long-term asset such as a building isn’t as valuable as the asset created, otherwise it wouldn’t be created. Such an asset can function as an investment for both the owner and the planet when the proper mindset is implemented. In this sense, the energy and resource consumption of our buildings must be weighed against the initial cost of creating the asset. Through forward thinking and planning, our buildings and assets can give back to us and to nature. With the right team and mindset, they can even be prepared for future improvements with little to no overhead.
There are many more facets to building a better world. If you have suggestions or comments that can help us build a more sustainable world, please leave them below. By implementing and promoting best practices, together we can create a world that is truly Future Proof ™.