The Cost Of Building Green

The Cost of Building Green
Some companies explain their reasoning behind not adopting green principles in design and construction of their buildings as high cost. However, upon examination this argument falls apart. In fact, green buildings recoup the initial investment in eco-friendly technologies rapidly, and are valued higher than conventional buildings of similar size and style.
A few decades ago, green buildings were thought of as an impractical idea embraced only by tree huggers. However, incredible advances in technology have made a green revolution in building possible. Green buildings are now considered sound investments, and are now the fastest growing area of the design and construction sector.
If you are considering building green, you should consider LEED® certification. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a set of rating systems that ensure the building's energy efficiency as well as other green aspects. LEED is an internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. LEED Canada oversees the system in this country, and sets standards calibrated for Canadian weather that ensure high performing, environmentally sound buildings.
LEED uses five key areas to assess design, construction, and operation. They are: sustainable site development, water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.
Buildings can attain different levels of LEED certification, depending on how many points are awarded in each area. There are four levels of LEED certification: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.
Benefits of Green Commercial Properties
Commercial buildings that are LEED certified are in particular demand, and many companies are opting to build to LEED standards. This is because recent studies show that energy efficiency pays off start-up costs quickly, especially as energy prices continue to rise. Also, with a healthier, cleaner interior environment, LEED certified buildings can boost the bottom line by improving employee productivity, reducĀ­ing illness, bolstering recruitment and raising retenĀ­tion.
Energy cost savings and enhanced employee productivity aren't the only benefits generated by LEED certified commercial properties. They also reduce storm water runoff, increase groundwater recharge, improve air and water quality, and help to create healthier, greener neighbourhoods.
Less tangible advantages of having LEED certified properties include the fact that you will have reduced your company's carbon footprint, and enhanced your profile as a company that cares about the environment and Canada's sustainable future. In fact, being identified as green can open up new markets for your products or services.
And it's been proven. In a recent study released by the Canada Green Building Council and McGraw Hill Construction titled Canada Green Building Trends: Benefits Driving the New and Retrofit Market it was found that companies that invest in green buildings are seeing significant dividends on their investments, including:
  • 82% of building owners and developers reported decreases in energy consumption in their green buildings compared to similar buildings.
  • 68% of building owners and developers reported decreases in water consumption in their green buildings.
  • The median reduction in operating costs over five years for green buildings reported by the firms included in the research is 17%.
  • The median payback for the investment in a new green building is reported to be eight years, a finding consistent with paybacks on studies McGraw Hill has conducted in the U.S. and globally.
The Canada Green Building Council
Sustainable building is a burgeoning industry, and at the forefront of the green movement is the Canada Green Building Council, a national membership organization that helps to change industry standards, to develop best design practices and guidelines, advocate for green buildings, and develop educational tools to support its members in implementing sustainable design and construction practices.
The CaGBC disseminates detailed information about the LEED certification process and helps individuals earn LEED professional credentials, among many other programs and initiatives. The CaGBC also maintains a list of LEED certified projects on its website.
In addition, the CaGBC offers green education in other areas, maintains a directory of green building products and services, and several programs designed to promote green building and retrofitting. The annual National Conference showcases the latest in green technology and practices, and they also commission reports on the status of green and sustainable building in Canada.

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