Can building owners afford not to build green? Comparisons of commercial construction costs suggest that despite higher initial costs, green building clearly saves money in the long run, according to a news item at Reed Construction Data.
Numerous studies have been conducted to compare the cost of a USGBC LEED-certified building versus a traditional design, states the Reed Construction article. Those studies have shown a cost premium for a LEED-certified commercial building of some 2%5%, or $7.50 to $12.50 per sq. ft. on commercial projects.
However, a study by Capital E calculates the 20-year net present value (NPV) cost savings of a LEED "Certified" or Silver building at $52.87 per-sq.-ft and $71.31 per-sq.-ft. for LEED Gold or Platinum buildings.
The initial cost premiums are due to the greater architectural and engineering design time needed for green building design and to higher commissioning costsassuring that systems are properly designed, installed and tested. (According to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, commissioning can save as much as 40% of the building utility bills for HVAC.)
Operational savings come from less waste recycling, reduced energy and water use, better indoor air quality, plus better occupant productivity and health benefits associated with green building, says the article.
Even if productivity and health benefits are eliminated, "the 20-year NPV savings of $15.89 exceeds the cost premium stated above. In light of the above, who can afford not to build green," concludes the Reed Construction article.