“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.