“Green Buildings” not as costly as many think

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development released the results of an interesting survey this week, showing that “key” players in the real estate and construction markets are overestimating the cost of constructing “green” buildings.

Respondents to a 1,400 person global survey estimated the additional cost of building green at 17 percent above conventional construction, more than triple the true cost difference of about 5 percent. At the same time, survey respondents put greenhouse gas emissions by buildings at 19 percent of world total, while the actual number of 40 percent is double this.

Click here for the full report, which was created with participation from cement giant Lafarge, United Technologies Corp., DuPont, Philips, and others. The business council hopes to spread an important message: that existing technologies combined with commonsense design can increase energy efficiency by 35 per cent and reduce heating costs by 80 per cent for the average building in industrialized markets.

If the true cost is only 5 per cent higher than the status quo, isn’t this a no-brainer? Particularly given this premium will be paid off in no time through energy savings… Developed and developing economies should require no less for any new building. Building codes are being updated in places like Ontario, but not fast enough and not aggressively enough to have the kind of impact we need to see. For example, we’re building office buildings in Canada at a record pace. Unfortunately, each new building that’s put up represents a missed opportunity for dramatic efficiency improvements.

2 thoughts on ““Green Buildings” not as costly as many think”

  1. “isn’t this a no-brainer?”
    Sadly, in my experience of the building industry, often it seems like there aren’t enough brains to go around. And I would reluctantly extend that to consumers: although I don’t want to impose my taste on anyone else, I do have to wonder what people are thinking–or that thay’re not thinking–when they make decisions of wherre thye’re going to live for the next few decades.
    One interesting analogy I’ve read recently: why is it that the reaction to a new development is almost always “Oh God…here we go again”? There are many beautiful, vibrant neighbourhoods in Toronto and cities around the world that I would *love* to see recreated, yet we just can’t get spaces of that character built today. There’s no technical reason. It’s just the buildinng industry–somewhere in the nexus of investors, blunt zoning laws, conservative construction companies, developpers with unambitious preconceptions of consumer taste, and homebuyers who care more about square footage than community, we’ve lost the ability to build great communities.
    The inability–or unwillingness–to adopt sustainability fits the pattern perfectly. If you look at the best “green” designs, they aren’t just tacked-on extra insulation, but elegant, beautiful solutions that are sometimes even cheaper to build than conventional. But you wouldn’t expect the mass builders to adopt them. I think it’s a case of unusually severe inside-the-box thinking.

  2. After visiting and watching a number of green homes go up I can vouch for the fact that they are not at all more expensive then most traditional built homes. It’s simply smart building in most cases and utilization of quality building materials. When comparing ‘custom built’ homes, the green home almost always comes in under that of the mansion built with exotic finishes and stone exteriors. Savings can also be found in the construction Using ICF or sandwiched pre-fab laminate panels is quick and easy for builders. It shaves construction time in half and that means saving money.

    So combine that with the lifespan savings of the home… and it really is simple math. But building crappy homes means a few things for builders – and thats increased profit margins and no need for training on new building methods.

Comments are closed.