What’s the Triple Bottom Line approach?

While every developer pursues financial profitability, triple bottom line supporters see it as just one part of a much bigger picture. 

Sustainability and big picture focused entrepreneurs also recognize that “profit” isn’t diametrically opposed to “people” or “planet.” Traditionally, developers concern themselves predominantly with their bottom lines. But today, consumers and communities are beginning to think sustainably and care more deeply about what is being developed in their neighbourhoods and cities. Quite simply they expect, demand and deserve more.

The triple bottom line theory expands the traditional developer feasibility framework to include two other performance areas: the social and environmental impacts of their business/project. 

These bottom lines are referred to as the three P’s: people, planet, and profit.

Look across the sky line of the inner suburbs of any of our major Australian cities and you will see a plethora of uninspired, shoe box stacked soaring towers of horrid apartments. Where little or no consideration has been given to anything other than how to get a DA and ‘maximise the site’ for highest density and best profitability. Ground floor retail and amenity is poorly executed and considered, if at all. Empathy and consideration for established architectural form and the resident community comes at us heavy in campaign form, yet is rarely genuine or followed through on. The 150 year old heritage home that once sat proud high on its river front block is now devalued, dwarfed and cloaked in shadow for much of the day. It’s new neighbour features 324 units built with terrible cross ventilation, unfavourable orientation and mass produced, low quality imported construction materials. Ground floor Woolworths Metro drags much needed customers away from the decades old local artisanal baker and charming family run delicatessen who struggle to compete with their tiny margins.

As our population booms and space diminishes, we inevitably must shift to higher density housing or forge forward with the lesser ideal of dramatic deforestation via urban sprawl. People need homes and inner city living should not be the exclusive right of generations old land owners or the well heeled. However, developers, planners, councils and communities must adopt new and more mindful thinking and practises. This move toward denser urban living needs to be paired with broader more considered design and thinking to also ensure environmental and economic sustainability. Profitability is a given. But surely so to are people and planet.