Building Green on a Budget
Building green costs too much.” “I’d like to include green features, but the budget just isn’t high enough.” “Green building is just for wealthy clients.” All too often we hear these claims. And, indeed, a lot of elements of environmentally responsible building do cost more—at least in the short term. But many of the design and building practices that are described in the pages of EBN or advocated by a growing cadre of environmentally conscious designers and builders cost no more than conventional practice. Indeed, some cost less. We’re talking about first-cost here—how much more (if any) it costs to incorporate green features into a building project. Life-cycle costs are different. When we factor in energy savings over time, or increased durability, or enhanced worker productivity, green design features and materials become much easier to justify. It would be wonderful if life-cycle costs were considered as a matter of course in building design today—but they are not. Most of us in the building profession are forced to deal almost solely with first-cost in justifying our projects. To address this issue—and the perception that building green has to cost more—we’re devoting our feature article this month to low-cost green building features. Most of the article is a checklist of design strategies, building practices, and material substitutions that will cost no more than—or actually cost less than—conventional practice. By no means should this list be considered complete in terms of what can be done on a tight budget. With good integration of all the disciplines on a design team, it is possible to incorporate, within budget, many strategies that taken alone would increase costs. The project report provides an excellent example of such a design.
May 1, 1999
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EBN: Feature - March 2005
EBN: Projects - May 1999
EBN: Feature - January 1998
1. Photo: T.J. Adel & Son Photography