Sustainability E-News Vol 10 #4 "Green" Economics

The Masonry Society

Sustainability E-News

"Green" Economics

February 28, 2018                                    

Volume 10, Number 4



From the Editor

Oftentimes when the term sustainability is used, the focus is on environmental impacts and environmental aspects of design - an approach that is better considered "green" than "sustainable" - as the environment is only one element in sustainability. Economics and societal impacts should not be overlooked. A better way to remember sustainability is to think "People, Profit, Planet" or "Triple Bottom Line". This edition of Sustainability E-News focuses on those two often overlooked aspects of sustainability.


Christine "Tina" Subasic, PE, LEED AP


NOTE: Inclusion in this newsletter is not an endorsement of the products and materials featured, nor have these products been evaluated by TMS or the editor. Furthermore, the views expressed in the articles featured are those of the article authors.



I often tell people "it's not truly sustainable if it's not financially sustainable." Consideration of the economic aspects of design is an important though often overlooked element of sustainability. The articles below demonstrate the wisdom of considering economics. ~Tina


NIBS Report Shows Natural Hazard Mitigation has Economic Benefits


The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) has issued the Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2017 Interim Report. This report shows that investments in hazard mitigation can save the nation $6 in future disaster cost for every $1 spent. Further, the report analyzed the effects of designing new buildings to exceed the minimum provisions of building codes. Doing that can save the nation $4 for every $1 spent. You can find the NIBS report here.  


Study Shows Concrete Masonry is Cost-Effective

Concrete masonry construction is a cost-effective option compared to wood and other systems according to a new cost study analysis. The study investigated the construction cost of six different material systems in a four story multi-family residential building. The initial study included three cities across the US and costs were evaluated at three different time periods over the past year. In all cases, concrete masonry was either the most cost effective option or within a few percent of wood construction. These results show that concrete masonry is not only the best choice for resilience, fire safety, and occupant comfort but also the best choice for overall cost. Read more about this study, additional cities evaluated, and other building construction comparison studies


Novo Nordisk Sets the Bar with Sustainability Reports


Novo Nordisk continues to set a good example for other companies with integrated financial and sustainability reports that illustrate how environmental initiatives can help companies succeed financially, Leon Kaye says in this article. "Its brevity is punctuated by what more companies should do: simply lay out the facts, from the financial numbers to the social and environmental performance metrics, in a simple table format -- and let the analysts crunch the numbers themselves," Kaye writes of the report. 



Social equity is a term often used to describe the consideration of the effects of construction on community and people. Effects can be positive or negative and can be particularly challenging to quantify. ~Tina


Architects and Social Equity


USGBC's Social Equity Working Group has been working to identify the issues that can be addressed in a building project. They have come up with pilot credits that put forth solutions that are readily implementable-both in existing LEED projects and as part of the planning and design process. USGBC and many other organizations are starting to address these issues of equality and justice. Read more.




France Considers Labels to Make Product Life Spans More Transparent


France is considering voluntary labels that would rank products on factors such as durability to make product life spans clearer to consumers. The labeling program would be part of France's efforts to reduce planned obsolescence and promote a more circular economy.Read more.




It's not too late to register for The Masonry Society's Masonry Educators' Workshop! Sustainability, codes and design will be among the many topics presented. TMS is also looking for presentations for our Annual Meeting program. See the articles below for more information. ~Tina


Masonry Educators' Workshop 2018

The Masonry Society will present the 2018 Masonry Educators' Workshop (MEW), formerly known as the University Professors' Masonry Workshop (UPMW), at the University of South Florida and Embassy Suites by Hilton Tampa USF from March 11-13, 2018. Download the flyer here.


TMS Annual Meeting Presentations Sought 

TMS is seeking excellent presentations for its Annual Meeting that will be held October 3-6 in Cleveland Ohio. Presentations will be presented on Thursday (new this year) October 4th and are to be 20 minutes in length and must comply with TMS and AIA requirements noted here. If you have a technical presentation you would like considered, please email a Title, a one paragraph description, and a 1 paragraph speaker bio to Phillip Samblanet no later than March 30, 2018. Notification of selected topics will be made later this Spring. 


Symposium on Whole Building Air Leakage: Testing and Building Performance Impacts

The Symposium on Whole Building Air Leakage: Testing and Building Performance Impacts will be held April 8-9, 2018 at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina in San Diego, CA. Sponsored by ASTM Committee E06 on Performance of Buildings, the symposium will be held, in conjunction with the meetings of the committee. This Symposium will provide for the exchange of ideas on current air leakage research relative to modeled or measured performance; a forum to review and discuss and focus attention on trends in whole building air leakage, in design criteria, construction, and performance verification; and identify new opportunities for new and revised standards and/or their incorporation or adoption into design criteria and regulations. For more information visit


Call for Abstracts: Integrated Building

The Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI), in partnership with The Pennsylvania State University (PSU), is pleased to announce the 8th Biennial Professional Conference for 2019. The theme of the conference is the "The Integrated Building: A National Agenda." The 2019 AEI Conference offers an opportunity for members of the building industry - structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers, construction management professionals, owners, and architects - to engage in conversations on advanced strategies and state-of-the-art practices of integrated building solutions. Abstracts/proposals, a maximum of 300-400 words, should be submitted online through our abstract submissions site at by April 2, 2018.



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