Moving Forward towards Sustainability: Contributions of the Living Building Challenge to Triple Bottom Line Reporting
Sustainability-related reporting by companies and organizations has been developed with the growth of the notion of sustainability since the 1970s. More recently, Triple Bottom Line (TBL) reporting, one form of sustainability-related reporting which looks at a company's environmental, social and economic aspects, has been widely researched and discussed. The G4 Sustainability Reporting Framework (Framework) put forward by the Global Reporting Initiative, is the most recognized and practiced TBL reporting structure. More and more companies worldwide, especially big multinational firms such as the Fortune Global 500, do TBL reporting under the Framework, aiming to keep on track with their vision and mission, to assist decision-making, to promote their public image, to share information with stakeholders, and to gain positive economic benefits. However, among these sustainability pioneer companies, no construction or real estate companies are seen. The real estate and construction sectors, together with the many fields and industries associated with them, make up one of the larger components of the global economy (Plunkett Research 2014). As of 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor estimated that 5.64 million Americans were employed in the construction industry. About $885.1 billion in new American construction was put in place during 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census (Plunkett Research 2014). As the construction and real estate sector also has a high impact on climate change, natural resources and natural ecosystems, if the sector notices the benefits of doing sustainability reporting, it will push forward their sustainability agenda. The construction and real estate sector puts sustainability into practice by means of reaching standards such as building and planning codes, Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification and affordable housing. The Living Building Challenge (LBC) is the "greenest" one among them, and it concerns all three bottom lines of TBL reporting. This thesis aims to answer the question: How does the LBC Prepare Developers for TBL Reporting? If we can bring the LBC and the Framework together, the combination will facilitate TBL reporting of the construction and real estate sector. The paper concludes that the LBC has excellent performance on the environmental aspect, the data of which are appropriate for environmental performance reporting. The LBC includes less data about economic and social performance, but assists TBL reporting indirectly. The LBC helps to ensure reporting contents and quality as well. Apart from criteria listed on the Framework, the LBC also identifies criteria specific for the construction and real estate sector, such as beauty of the project and car free living, which may add value on a building projects' sustainability performance. The research results suggest that developers or property managers who construct or manage buildings meeting the LBC to think about preparing TBL reporting. The reason is that the LBC data collected from the buildings are adequate to start TBL reporting and environmental data are quite resourceful and detailed. Further, the research findings are helpful to equip other interest groups, such as designers, planners and policymakers, to design and construct more sustainable buildings and communities.
- Urban planning