The developer-builder operates under a series of environmental pressures the most important of which is to sell homes while making a profit. The Developer-Builders consider first costs, first because profit equals marketability less first costs. Lifecycle benefits have no power over a builder unless those costs can be justified in sales. Not surprisingly, strategies such as solar aquatics systems, solar panels, geothermal, etc., have no attraction to the Developer-Builder because the long-term costs savings are realized by the Owner. So where is the magic line between additional up-front costs and increased marketability? Robert Hauser of Stonehaus Development in Charlottesville, Virginia thinks an increase in costs of 3-5% is an acceptable risk if his company can successfully brand its houses as energy-efficient.
That leads us to consider adaptive options that are within the Developer-Builder risk-tolerant zone. So the question is, how can we achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 in a cost-effective way? We must do so optimizing passive strategies: community, massing, envelope design, and passive solar – all strategies with lower first costs. This is what it will take to transform a profit-driven industry.