What Is a Master Plan?
Do you ever wonder what your house might look like in the year 2050? It may sound ridiculous for a homeowner to do so — especially in an economy where most people who are not under water on their mortgage change houses about once a decade, on average — but here at Byggmeister we think about that question all the time.
We work on homes every day that are at least a century old, and some are much older still. Despite being built mostly of a flammable, biodegradable product (wood, of course), they're some of the most solid structures you can imagine. They show no sign of going anywhere. Barring what the insurance companies call "acts of God" such as tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, or meteorites (or, I suppose, plagues of frogs or locusts, for that matter), I think I can safely predict that every house we work on will still be very much standing and occupied when 2050 comes around. This has to do with the quality of the homes we work on, of course, but also to a large extent to the stability of the neighborhoods and towns they're in.
Because the work we do on your homes will have such a long service life, we have to be very careful about the decisions we make when we plan and implement a renovation.
Fundamentally, we do believe that our economy is using limited resources such as fossil fuels and fresh water at an unsustainable rate. As a response to that belief, we have tried to come up with what we think are useful targets for resource usage — sustainable budgets, if you will.
Two such 'budgets' are that we think existing homes should be retrofitted and operated over time so that they can be comfortably occupied while only using 35 gallons of fresh water per person per day and about 20 to 22 million Btus of total primary energy per person annually.
These numbers may have very little meaning to you — if so, don't worry: you're not alone. Few people within the design and construction industry itself would be able to evaluate those resource consumption goals, and that includes first and foremost those who consider themselves "green." One of the reasons the green building movement has not been all that transformational (despite the name recognition that programs such as LEED have) is that very few people are tracking any useful performance numbers — practically no one is keeping score, in other words. And, absent a meaningful scorekeeping mechanism, there can be very little accountability.
We are trying to buck the trend, however, and to bring some accountability to our work. That's where the master plan comes in. When we start planning your work, we'll have a desired outcome in mind: We'll ask ourselves, "If we want this house to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, what will it probably look like in the year 2050?" That's the end point, and it will includes some specific, measurable resource consumption, air quality, and durability goals. We don't expect to get it to that end point over the course of one project (though we've been lucky enough to achieve that goal on a few projects), but we do want to make sure that the that work we do — those parts of the master plan that we do implement for you — fit into the plan rather than get in the way of the plan.
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