Conclusions: The Next Step

Given the massive anticipated global increase in urban physical plant, eco-cities design and green building technologies have the potential to make an enormous contribution to reducing the energy and material intensity of cities. Unfortunately, the full potential of green building is unlikely realized in the present political climate. In the past two decades, most governments have become committed to market forces and renewed global growth as the well-springs of all social value. Progressive tax reform, particularly tax increases are anathema to contemporary politicians. Canada, for example has forsworn contemplation of a ‘carbon tax’ (that most essential of eco-taxes) and has taken no significant steps toward achieving her Kyoto commitment of a 6% reduction in CO2 emissions over the next decade. As suggested above, this is both dumb ecology and perverse economics. It may also prove to be bad business. In countries without the strong pseudo-market incentive of eco-taxes to stimulate the creative process, new “dematerialized” building materials, methods, and technologies will be slow to appear. The under-pricing of conventional energy and materials will inhibit their development and the domestic building industry will have little to offer the world as the sustainability imperative gains momentum. Conversely, those countries and firms that act first to develop new energy/material-efficient technologies and processes will gain the upper hand in marketing these products and services in a global market of enormous potential demand. If they don’t wish to be left behind, all players in creating the build environment of the future would be well-advised to lobby their respective governments to formulate the necessary tax reforms without delay. Significantly, in the 1990s, at least five European countries “have taken the seminal step of combining environmental tax hikes with income or payroll tax cuts (Roodman 1997, 8). The world waits to see whether this is also a tentative first step toward producing the deep-green construction materials and methods needed for a doubling of the built environment in the 21st Century while ensuring the ecological sustainability of global society.
source: The Built Environment See also XlnkS43D

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