Thinking through the environmental consequences of what we do

On this Earth Day, no one would confuse me with an environmentalist.

I generally take the view that environmental problems are best solved by pricing in the externalities of our industry / consumption, rather than restricting activities by law. So, for example, I’m fine with people using a bunch of water to grow almonds in the desert; I just want them to pay the actual cost of the water they use.

But even though I’m not a tree-hugger, I do take a bit of pride in the fact that our business model is relatively sustainable. Among other things, we:

  • Re-use old buildings, rather than destroy them;
  • Add insulation to almost every building we renovate;
  • Replace old, inefficient lighting and electrical appliances with newer, more efficient ones;
  • Replace inefficient water heaters with newer, more effficient ones;
  • Replace old windows with new ones that insulate better;
  • Replace thirsty grass with gravel and drought-tolerant plants; and
  • Depending on the deal, add rain water capture devices that capture run-off

I’m not Captain Planet and we don’t do this stuff to make ourselves feel better… after all, our investors hire us to make them money, first and foremost. But I like the fact that, as a biproduct of making money, we’re systematically enhancing the sustainability of the neighborhoods in which we operate.