I could take hours to write my version of what the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) philosophy means to me but it’s all been said before. Here are a few excerpts from Wikipedia and a link to their pages on TBL… couldn’t have said it better myself.
‘Triple bottom line (TBL) accounting expands the traditional reporting framework to take into account social and environmental performance in addition to financial performance.’
‘The triple bottom line is made up of ‘social equity, economic, and environmental’ factors.’
‘People, planet and profit’ succinctly describes the triple bottom lines and the goal of sustainability.’
Borrowed from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_bottom_line
So how does this all relate to our little Greeny Flat? Well, we try to consider the environmental, social and financial consequences of every decision we make. Often we have to make compromises because nothing we do is perfect on all three counts. But at least we’re trying to move towards a better future.
Environmental: taking care of the planet
This whole project is largely driven by a concern for the health of the environment and the future of the planet. We see building small, affordable, sustainable, infill houses as a vastly preferable alternative to building new suburbs full of practically identical brick-veneer McMansions that suck energy, sprawl all over natural habitats and agricultural land, and require that the “consumers” living in them actually live in their cars a good portion of the time.
Social: taking care of people
Small, affordable, healthy, elderly-friendly housing close to amenities, close to nature, and close to public transport… now that’s got to be good for people. We’ve also tried as much as possible to use locally made (or at least Australian made) products from small, locally-owned businesses. This helps to keep our community and our country strong and prosperous as well as reducing environmental impacts associated with transporting materials over vast distances.
Financial: taking care of business
During the design and construction of the Greeny Flat we’ve carefully weighed the up-front costs against the long-term benefits in terms of reduced operating costs, reduced environmental impact, and improved quality of life and community. There’s no question that this house costs more to build than an equivalent sized housed built to the minimum allowable standards. But we think it’s worth it and how do you put a dollar value on a healthier environment or cleaner air?
One aspect of infill housing that greatly reduces the overall cost of a Granny Flat is the fact that the land is already paid for. In this area (the Southern Highlands of NSW), if we had had to buy the land to build this house on, it would have easily doubled the cost of construction. And, since there are very few vacant lots within the established town areas, we would most likely have had to build out on the edge of town somewhere, in a new subdivision that used to be bushland or farmland. We’d be contributing to urban sprawl. We’d be paying a LOT more. And we wouldn’t be able to live so conveniently close to everything. So infill housing is a good example of a Triple Bottom Line benefit.