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Natural Capital: Perception, Reality and Conversation. The first of a Series of four.

Thursday, 19 October 2017 14:55
Published in Knowledge

TheJames

Engaging with our community is a favorite past time at Better Building Works. We have partnered with Hannah Godsey on her project: “Natural Capital: Perception, Reality and Conversation”. The project is her final Thesis towards her Masters of Natural Resources in Global Leadership in Sustainability at Virginia Tech.

According to the Natural Capital Coalition, Natural Capital is defined as “the stock of renewable and non-renewable resources (e.g. plants, animals, air, water, soils, minerals) that combine to yield a flow of benefits to people.” 

After each participant’s answers to a brief online survey about the buildings we occupy, we had an enlightening and invigorating round-table discussion. What is The Natural Capital Approach and how are we as business owners, financial investors, building inspectors, builders, homeowners, parents, all of us, responsible? Can understanding ‘nature’ in terms of actual dollar values help us understand the costs and benefits of the decisions we make about our buildings? Will we do things differently?

Our conversation was eye opening - even to those of us who have practiced in the sustainable building sector for many years. Quality of life is perceived differently by all of us, influenced by our roles, biases, histories and habits. It is time to not only listen to one another but to hear one another. Several of us were able to connect dots that we hadn’t connected before by communication and participation in this focus group. 

By role-playing unfamiliar perspectives, walking in the shoes of others, we were able to think differently from how we normally think. We all went away with additional insight and in some cases different points of view than from whence we came. The result is a renewed appreciation for how simple conversations can have profound impacts. The key is allowing for different voices than we ‘normally’ engage. In this way, concepts we may take for granted are enriched and enlivened.

Our take-away? We need a common language when talking about Natural Capital that engages our feelings as well as our minds. We need to understand and talk about not only “out there” or outside environmental issues but also “in here” or inside our buildings’ environment, health and safety issues. We also discovered that ‘Resiliency’ is not just emergency preparedness, but an attitude towards here and now quality of life.

“Everything is Connected”. We know this. Scientists, economists, financial institutions and the legal profession are beginning to incorporate the concept of Natural Capital into decision making about risks and opportunities. Likewise, these concepts impact our lives. Being intentional about how we understand and relate to the world makes us wiser, more resilient and, ultimately, happier.

To learn more and to help with starting your own discussions with others about Natural Capital, go to http://naturalcapitalcoalition.org/natural-capital/ Stay tuned for more insights in part two of this series.

Be sure to watch for “Pop-Up” discussions around town, you never know when or where you will see us!

Here They Come Again...

Thursday, 05 October 2017 14:10
Published in Knowledge

stinkbugs 2jpg

...Those Pesky Bugs are At it Again. They will find any penetration in your home so that they can get in and hibernate for the winter. You know, you will find them in the Spring or if you are like me, when I am making up the guest bed - there they are. I have to shake out the sheets and re-wash them. They burrow into every corner, every blanket, anywhere that it is warm, lay eggs and stay until it warms up outside. 

According to NPR this morning, they are in abundance this year. You can blame fairly mild winters for the past few years for this. NPR mentions several interventions - by other insects and whatnot, but they also say that the only way to really keep them from coming in is to plug up those holes. The problem is knowing where those holes are located. They are not always evident. 

sbwindowI know this because I fought those bugs for a couple of years before finding out where they were coming into my house. Stink bugs are trying to enter my house this year, as evidenced by the picture to the left. They are having a bit more difficulty with getting in this year, as I did have my house sealed. Now the only way they get in is when we open the door for the pets to come in and go out. How did I find the entrance they were using in the past? Better Building Works came to the rescue. They were able to identify the penetrations (holes) and recommend the action needed. I took that action and wow...it is working. 

And...there is a silver lining! Not only are the stink bugs totally relegated to the outside, my house is sealed tight, ventilated right, and energy efficient. Turns out that the same holes that allow stinkbugs to sneak into your cozy home are ones your expensive energy uses to sneak out. Better Building Works can help! Give us a call.

The Natural Capital Protocol

Thursday, 27 July 2017 08:19
Published in Knowledge

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“Natural Capital is the World’s stocks of natural assets including geology, soil, air, water and all living things.” 1

Nature is a form of capital that ALL businesses impact and depend upon. The Natural Capital Protocol creates a standardized framework for businesses to measure their direct and indirect impacts and dependancies on nature to make smarter decisions in the long run.

The Protocol strives to make nature and natural resources more visible in the decision making processes for business leaders to show them that it is in their best interest to create a sustainable future by decreasing their risk and increasing their profitability. 2

So go ahead and take a look. All the cool kids are doing it.

Natural Capital Coalition Protocol

Resources:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      (1) "What is natural capital?". naturalcapitalforum.com. World Forum on Natural Capital. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
(2) "What is Natural Capital". www.naturalcapitalcoalition.org. Natural Capital Coalition. Retrieved 26 December 2017.

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