Asking if a high performance green building costs more than a conventional alternative is a little like asking which is more expensive, an efficient car or an inefficient one? The answer, of course, depends on factors such as the make and model, features, and driving preferences. Many green buildings cost no more to build – or even less than the alternatives – because resource-efficient strategies often allow downsizing of more costly mechanical, electrical, and structural systems.
Design for Cost-Effectiveness
A high performance green building is an efficient building. Savings in energy costs of 20 – 50% are common through integrated planning, site orientation, energy-saving technologies, on-site renewable energy producing technologies, light reflective materials, natural daylight and ventilation, and downsized HVAC and other equipment.
Enhance Health and Well-Being
High performance green buildings typically offer healthier environments for tenants. A new survey of laboratory and field research suggests rich opportunities ahead for owners and occupants alike to better understand and take advantage of various green building features to enhance worker well-being and performance. No wonder businesses are beginning to use high performance buildings as a potent tool for recruiting and retaining the best employees.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes “sick building syndrome” as a real occurrence. The World Health Organization reported up to 30% of new and remodeled buildings worldwide may be subject to complaints related to indoor air quality.
With an increase in mold-related claims, insurance companies have begun to take defensive action with mold clauses and rate hikes. Some industry experts are even predicting that insurance companies will start linking lower premiums to high performance buildings.
Create Value for Tenants
According to the EPA, a tenant can save approximately $0.50 per square foot per year through cost management and operations strategies that cut energy use by 30%. The tenant’s accumulated savings can represent $50,000 or more in a five-year lease of 20,000 square feet of office space. Savings can be even higher when incorporating a variety of high performance and flexible building design components.
Increased Property Value
An asset that maintains its value through higher occupancy and easier maintenance is easier to sell and may command a higher market valuation. There is growing confidence in the industry that a high performance green building can either capture lease premiums or present a more competitive property in an otherwise tough market. Reduced operating costs also generate increased cash flow, which helps free capital for other investments. As green buildings are increasing recognition of LEED programs, the marketplace is expected to follow with a system of preferential pricing.
Emphasis on the Future
As concerns over energy prices and energy security grow, government support for improving our infrastructure is at unprecedented levels. Movements are underway to develop energy-efficient government facilities or refurbish existing facilities to set the example of how green buildings are the way of the future.
There is also a new emphasis on revitalizing thousands of school buildings across the country in need of repair and upgrade. Such efforts on renovation are projected to not only save billions of dollars in energy, but to improve the working and learning environments.