How does green construction stack up to conventional

A building in construction on a sunny day

How does green construction stack up to conventional

While building green can require a larger investment during the construction phase, in day-to-day operations, how cost effective are green buildings to maintain in comparison to conventional buildings?

There are a numerous benefits when looking at the operation of green buildings.

They generally tend to use less energy, less water and emit less carbon. And, when looking at these factors, one would expect to see reduced costs in operating expenses.

But, what does the data really show?

The General Services Administration (GSA) conducted an in-depth study of 22 green federal buildings across the United States to look at the performance of green buildings compared with the performance of more conventionally built buildings.

The study, entitled Green Building Performance: A Post Occupancy Evaluation of 22 GSA Buildings, compared each building’s energy use, intensity, energy cost, carbon dioxide emissions, maintenance costs, water use and occupant satisfaction.

Sixteen of the study’s 22 buildings were LEED-NE certified or registered and six of them met the requirements of other sustainable building programs.

Outcomes from the study were conclusive that, on average, green buildings regularly outperform the national averages of conventional building performance data. The green constructed buildings used less water, less energy, emitted less carbon dioxide and cost much less to maintain. Even the buildings ranking in the bottom third for performance were still 25 per cent above the national average for conventional buildings.

In general, buildings that had incorporated sustainable design practices performed better than industry average buildings. However, it was noted that in order to take full advantage of the potential savings of a green building, you must also pair it with energy efficient equipment.Costs are the lowest when sustainability is integrated into every aspect of a building.

In today’s construction marketplace, building green is often more expensive than building with conventional materials. However, in the long run there are a number of cost savings to be had.

It has also been forecasted that as society and the marketplace further adopts environmentally- friendly technologies, the costs of the building materials will drop. Everyday the cost of building green is moving closer and closer to conventional costs.

In the long run, sustainable practices and retrofits can produce a big impact on your company’s green credibility and your bottom line. Despite the initial costs of green construction, you will have the potential to save hundreds of dollars per square foot through higher building performance.

Denis Vranich
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