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The Costs and Paybacks of Green Buildings
Researchers released an impressive amount of information at Greenbuild last week including a study with the kind of news we all want to hear – the cost premium for green buildings is considerably less than most people think AND the benefits accrue in numerous and sometimes surprising ways.
The international study, Greening Buildings and Communities: Costs and Benefits, is based on extensive analysis of 150 green buildings and provides the most detailed findings to date on the costs and financial benefits of building green. Among the study’s key findings:
- Green buildings cost roughly 2 percent more to build than conventional non-green buildings, and provide a wide range of financial, health, and social benefits.
- Green buildings reduce energy use by an average of 33 percent, resulting in significant cost savings.
- Green buildings create roughly $1 per square foot of value in increased employment by shifting spending from fossil fuel-based energy to more labor intensive domestic jobs in energy efficiency, renewable construction, and new green industries.
The list of conclusions includes some that are unexpected – delightfully so. Annual gas savings in walkable communities can be as much as $1,000 per household. Annual health savings (from increased physical activity) can be more than $200 per household. CO2 emissions can be reduced by 10-25 perecnt.
These findings refute the public’s perception that green buildings cost more than conventionally designed buildings. It’s also good news in these tough economic times. “The deep downturn in real estate has not reduced the rapid growth in demand for and construction of green buildings,” said Greg Kats, the study’s lead author. “This suggests a flight to quality as buyers express a market preference for buildings that are more energy efficient, more comfortable and healthier.”
The complete study will be published as a book next summer but the highlights are good read now.