Feature Article

How to Build Green At No Added Cost

Avoiding cost premiums on green projects is not only possible: it's a good idea, focusing design teams on simple, effective designs that can deliver savings for years to come.

March 3, 2014

The library at Chula Vista High School in California is LEED Platinum, along with its new performing arts center. The mostly-low-income Sweetwater Union High School District earned high marks in LEED at low cost premiums using tight construction specifications and a 3,250 kW solar array built under a power purchase agreement.

Photo: Turner Construction Company and BCA Architects

Reduced operational costs, improved occupant health and productivity, and buildings with small ecological footprints: these are the ways we make the case for green buildings.

What about first cost?

Perhaps to the detriment of green building adoption, we’ve been letting cool premium products and innovative demonstration projects paint a picture of higher first costs. It doesn’t have to be that way, say architects, engineers, and developers that EBN spoke with. Using constraints to feed creativity, plenty of projects are not only choosing no-brainer, no-added-cost measures to go green but are also using their dollar budgets as a signaling mechanism to find cheaper, simpler, and more effective designs.