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Green building can reduce costs and improve the bottom line on both building construction and building operation.
Comparable First Costs
Green building first costs are competitive with those of traditional building, according to the USGBC. Integrated design enables significant benefits at a low initial cost by achieving synergies between the various disciplines—architects, engineers, builders, etc.-- and between building systems and technologies.
When a whole building approach is used in decision making in the first phase of design and construction, those decisions can significantly and positively affect the costs and efficiencies throughout the remainder of the building process and through the life of the building.
Lower Operating Costs
One obvious category of potential saving lies in lower operating costs as the result of reduced utility costs.
Approximately 25% of the total operating costs of a typical building are spent on energy. About half of that total energy consumption is used to create an indoor climate for its occupants through heating and cooling, ventilation and lighting. By using existing technologies within the framework of green building, it has been estimated that the typical energy consumption for heating and cooling can be cut by 60%. In addition, one half of the energy used for lighting could be saved in the same manner, according to various estimates.
Improved Long Term Economic Performance
Due to these and other factors, green building optimizes the life-cycle economic performance of the building, USGBC says. Integrated design increases the building’s valuation and the return on the owner’s investment. Because of their desirable qualities, occupants prefer green buildings, so these buildings also provide a marketing advantage in terms of greater occupancy rates and occupant retention. Green buildings also improve risk management because they are far less likely to develop "sick building syndrome" or other conditions that can lead to occupant health and safety problems.
Integrated design in buildings such as office buildings, retail locations and schools, also returns productivity benefits. Various studies have shown that occupant performance improves in green buildings. Students have been shown to perform better in schools that make substantial use of daylight to augment or replace artificial light, for example. Occupant absenteeism and turnover are reduced in green buildings. In some instances, even retail sales improve--by as much as 40% in day lighting versus artificial light.
Health and Safety Benefits
Elements of green building such as day lighting, improved air quality, other improvements and greater control of the indoor environment all contribute to improved occupant satisfaction. Reports of headaches, nausea, "stale air," or simply uncomfortable temperatures tend to be reduced so that absenteeism decreases and productivity rises. A green building approach to indoor air quality and the indoor environment overall also tends to reduce the potential risk of illnesses related to maladies such as "sick building syndrome."
Green buildings minimize the strain they place on local infrastructure.
Green buildings will reduce storm water runoff, erosion and watershed pollution and protect the communities natural environment. The energy and resource efficiency of green buildings lessen the demand on community infrastructure such as potable water, sewerage and power generation
Integrated design considerations in original construction, such as clustering, locating buildings in mixed-use areas and in proximity to assorted types of to transportation all can contribute to lessening the building’s overall impact, preserving community historical resources and open space, and improving the quality of life in the community.