Inhabitat











September 5, 2007

THE COSTS OF GREEN ARCHITECTURE

by Jorge Chapa

green building, sustainable architecture, green, sustainable, report, world, business, council, development, costs

One of the key issues that plagues green architecture proponents worldwide is how the cost of green building compares to conventional construction. After all, if a green building is more expensive than a standard one, what incentives do the developers and moneymakers have to go green? Despite what you may think, thanks to a new study by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, we can safely say that building an environmentally-friendly building is not as expensive as commonly thought.

The report, titled ‘Energy Efficiency in Buildings: Business Realities and Opportunities’ makes the case that most people tend to over estimate the true cost of a green building. After surveying 1400 professionals involved in the survey, they show that most people believed the costs of going green were 300% higher than what they really are, or about 17% above conventional construction costs. The reality is that the green markup is about 5% over conventional buildings, and may even be less than that in some cases.

The survey also found that most people tend to underestimate the greenhouse emissions put out by buildings. The truth is that buildings are responsible for over 40% of total emissions. Does it worry anyone else that most building industry professionals believe that the impact of buildings to the environment is considerably less than what it really is?

The report also puts forward strategies for the building community as a whole to increase their energy efficiency and diminish their footprint on the environment. They recommend creating zero-energy buildings (buildings that produce as much energy as they consume), increase the education of building professionals, introduce policies to increase interest in greener technologies, and engage in simple measures such as good design. The report also suggests that that no matter how many energy-saving devices are built into the building, changing the behavior of building occupants, and making them understand the implications of wasting energy, is an important step in making the built environment as green as possible. The bottom line:

Buildings account for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions - AND - making a building “green” costs just 5% more in construction costs.

You do the math.. Can we afford NOT to make all of our buildings green?

+ Energy Efficiency in Buildings: Business Realities and Opportunities @ WBCSD

15 Responses to “THE COSTS OF GREEN ARCHITECTURE”

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[...] Inhabitat: Buildings account for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions - AND - making a building “green” costs [...]

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Orrin Says:

Links to the study are not working.

What about the ongoing maintenance costs of green buildings vs. traditional buildings? How about deconstruction… there will be a time when this building will need to be torn down and something built on top of it?

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Sean Says:

Hurrah! Good news! I’m pleased by this post, especially since it’s the field I’ll be going into. Architecture with environmental initiatives in mind.

And yes, it does disturb me that we are constantly overlooking the fact that our cities and the buildings therein, are a large part of the problem.

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Bob Says:

Trying to print Costs of Green Architecture does not seem so green as it takes 17 pages. such a waste.

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Michael Says:

We have two chooses… 1). Pay a little more upfront for designing and building green architecture or… 2). Pay a lot more for the future costs to the: environment, skyrocking utilities, and landfills. “A penny wise and a pound foolish”!

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[...] Inhabitat links to a report that says sustainable architecture isn’t much more expensive. [...]

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Naomi Says:

In response to Orrin’s post above:… if a building has truly been contructed with “green materials”, then it ought to be very easy to deconstruct… if that should ever be the desire/need. This is because true green materials would never be toxic hold-overs committed to landfills. AND, the materials… if really green, green, building materials would have been designed to simply recycle back to the source/company from whence they came. So, hope that gives you another… more confident perspective on building green…. not to mention more acurate understanding.

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[...] read a great post on Inhabitat the other day that brought this issue to light, and pointed me to a report put out by the World [...]

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James Says:

In response to Bob’s post, above, Bob … it is distributed as an electronic document … no need to print it out. That should save a bush or two.

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Michael Says:

OHSU here in portland came in under budget with a platinum LEED rating!

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[...] Inhabitat TheraSpa Tri-Action Foot Massager, masajeador de [...]

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Tanya Says:

This is great news for us in the eco-firendly design buisness. I have found that the most common response to sustainable design is “How much more is that going to cost?” so it’s nice to have some recent figures to quote.

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[...] Inhabitat links to a report that says sustainable architecture isn’t much more expensive. [...]

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[...] fashion with lots of time allocated for each phase. They say ‘green’ design might cost up to 25% more (I don’t think it is that high, but I do think you need about 25% more time to [...]

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