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 flashy products and innovative case studies paint a picture of higher first costs for green buildings. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Constraints fuel creativity, and plenty of projects are leveraging budgets limitations to meet sustainability goals by designing simpler, more effective spaces.
Between lighting, water use, mechanical systems, the building envelope, and occupant health, existing buildings are rife with cost-effective retrofits and operational opportunities that also offer environmental benefits. Improvements range from the painfully obvious to the more complex and involved.
Integrated project delivery, or IPD, is a new contract mechanism for design and construction. Among its benefits for green building, it enshrines integrated design and building information modeling (BIM) into a legally supportive framework.
Conserving water goes beyond building design and technology. Water use is governed by federal, state, and local policies, from maximum flow requirements to pricing structures that encourage or discourage conservation.
When used in combination, incentives and regulations can be a powerful force for encouraging green buildings. Incentives can be complicated to navigate, but are often well worth the effort. Regulations, on the other hand, can be slow to change, but can raise the baseline for building performance.
Recent changes in the financial industry are providing new opportunities for financing green buildings. However, lenders and investors have different approaches to documenting the benefits of green, which affect how they use rating systems and other metrics. To navigate effectively in the financial world, green designers and builders need to understand the territory.
Rehabilitation of existing buildings is important to sustainability in buildings, but with historic buildings, green building and preservationism can diverge. With attention to preservation standards and suitable application of green strategies, however, those agendas can be aligned.