Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Case for Green Building

In addition to saving money, green buildings contribute to people's health and quality of life, they combat climate change by having a lower emissions profile and they preserve the environment by conserving resources. They also address energy security, create jobs and mitigate against regulatory risks. Perhaps the most important consideration for building owners is the bottom line and according to a number of sources, the design and construction of green buildings are cost competitive even before you factor the savings from reduced operating costs.

According to Betzwood Associates, Green buildings can decrease carbon emissions by 35 percent, energy consumption by 50 percent, water use by 35 percent and solid waste by 70 percent.

Mike Schoenecker, vice president at Winkelman Building Corp. is categorical in his conviction that green buildings save money. According to an article on LinkedIn, Schoenecker says that green buildings save money in materials, maintenance and through government support.

Using green materials saves money on energy and water costs. "Experts report that businesses that pay the initial 2 percent increase for green materials as opposed to traditional building materials (on average) will recoup this initial outlay by as much as six to seven times," Schoenecker writes. Sustainable building materials also save money in maintenance and repair.

Federal, state and local governments offer rebates, tax credits and other financial incentives for building green. The US Department of Energy’s DSIRE database lists all the government incentives and programs organized by state.

Schoenecker views mirror the findings of a comprehensive report from the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC). This 2013 report reviews the payoffs associated with green building, it is titled, "The Business Case for Green Building: A Review of the Costs and Benefits for Developers, Investors and Occupants"

The report indicates that Green buildings offer a host of economic, environmental and health benefits. Green buildings can be price competitive with conventional buildings and any additional investments can be recouped through operational savings. The reduced energy demand typically pays for any cost premiums in design and construction in a reasonable period. There are also reduced water, operations and maintenance costs. Green buildings are often more productive spaces that contribute to the health and well being of the occupants.

Green buildings also mitigate against risk. Sustainability risk factors can significantly impact the rental income and the future value of real estate assets. Such buildings are also insolated from regulatory risks associated with mandatory disclosure, building codes and laws pertaining to building efficiency.

Green buildings have higher asset value as they more easily attract tenants and to command higher rents and sale prices. They also have the ancillary benefits of garnering public interest through their reduced footprint.

The data clearly point to the benefits of green building.

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