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“Building Green” doesn’t have to cost February 29, 2008

Posted by OldGuy in building green, energy conservation, LEED.
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Robin Suttell wrote a great article at Buildings.com that cites hard numbers of building environmentally friendly buildings.

The article quotes the 2003 study by the The Costs and Financial Benefits of Green Buildings which shows that the average premium for all 33 studied green buildings is slightly less than 2 percent ($3 to $5 per square foot).”

While it’s hard to generalize from such a small sample, most of the research believes you can build a building with many of the LEED standards without any additional cost. Most of the cost incurred involves taking time up front to think through the project with an eye to efficiencies, and the architectural time to put the ideas into the plans. “Green isn’t going to be cost effective or work to the highest levels of efficiency if it is tacked on somewhere in the middle or the end of the project,” says Turner Construction’s green guru Rod Wille.

Other studies suggest many of the improvements actually improve productivity, paying for themselves. Robin Suttell concluded that “Four attributes of green building design – increased ventilation control, increased temperature control, increased lighting control, and increased daylighting – have been positively and significantly correlated with increased productivity. Indoor air quality also has been linked to potential productivity and health gains in workplaces and educational facilities.”

Rod Willie adds, “If you can increase productivity by more than 1.5-percent over the 20-year term of a building, that translates into $40 per square foot you can put into a building based on the ultimate term of high productivity. … You can spend $40 per square foot more because you’re going to get that back.”

The ROI of Green Buildings February 27, 2008

Posted by OldGuy in energy conservation, LEED.
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In a Washington Post article titled “Saving the World Inside the Office,” they described the actions of Discovery Communications (Discovery Channel) trying to revamp their corporate headquarters to be more eco-friendly.

Larry Laque, an executive at Discovery, noted they had done the traditional recycling campaigns and standard energy conservation methods.  But they wanted to do even more.  “Green-handled, low-flush toilets were installed in every restroom. Three 400-gallon tanks in the garage stored rainwater to irrigate the company’s lawn. And numerous unnecessary light bulbs had been removed, such as vending machine lights.”

The point of the article was to tell companies how to “become part of the green solution.”  Discovery has taken the effort to get certified by the US Green Energy Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

The article points out, however, the unusual features of LEED certification.  Noted was the discrepancy between environmental remediation and key design features and the relative worth in the scoring method.   It quotes Bill Oatey, owner of the Oatey Co., a Cleveland Plumbing company.  They got one “point” for brownfield remediation and another one point for putting in a bicycle rack.

Almost missed in the article was the potential for economic return on investment.  There are some interesting and affordable options in the sidebar.  Like the use of collected rainwater to care for the landscaping and graywater (from sinks and water fountains) to flush the toilets.

As you look for ways to produce more energy, consider first the conservation of what you have now.  Doing good for the environment does not have to be bad for the wallet.