It's only been open a few weeks now and Waldsee BioHaus is already being written about by many reporters. That's great! And as I've read these articles, I've started wondering ... what is the best way to evaluate the BioHaus ROI? Dollar-for-dollar return on investment or in terms of something much more important to our society such as return on innovation?
Waldsee BioHaus is a demonstration project. A demonstration project is all about trying to prove that a goal that is defined by a new frontier like climbing Mount Everest or landing a man on the moon can be achieved by humankind. New frontiers are outside market conditions and they accrue costs that are not encountered in a ‘normal‚ project.
The goal of the Waldsee BioHaus is to demonstrate that an extreme strategy of resource conservation, in this case energy consumption of buildings in one of the toughest cold-climate conditions in the lower US, is a valid and important strategy for today’s and future generations that need to solve the energy- and climate-related issues we face as humans inhabiting this spaceship called earth. The BioHaus demonstrates that making a leap, like 85% less energy used than a normal building and increasing the quality of the building climate conditions, can be achieved almost within current market condition.
Another way to look at it is that the Waldsee BioHaus is the same as a working prototype of a 100 mile-a-gallon car with a budget of $30,000! Yes this may be an extra 20% additional cost to a comparable car in size and luxury accessories and may not be returned within today’s gas pump prices, but who knows where gas prices are going to be tomorrow? Also consider that buildings generally have a life expectancy of 30 to 75 years and energy prices just doubled in the last few years and we have not even started to tackle issues like global warming!
The revolutionary thing about BioHaus is that it is use 85% less energy than a regular commercial building or using less then 14,000 Btu/sfa. But BioHaus is more than just a new building, it's an educational tool and an investment in the future well-being of our students and the environment.
Adding all these issues of the present and future into the a fiscal equation make the Waldsee BioHaus a landmark project in my book ˆ one that will provide everyone with a huge Return on Innovation for a long time to come!