First Costs

Photo: Dave Dugdale. License: CC BY-SA 2.0.


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.

  • Integrated Project Delivery: A Platform for Efficient Construction
    October 29, 2008

    Feature Article

    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.

  • Water Policies: Encouraging Conservation
    August 28, 2008

    Feature Article

    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.

  • Navigating Incentives and Regulations for Green Building
    March 31, 2008

    Feature Article

    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.

  • Investing in the Environment: The Financial Industry's Approach to Green Building
    October 30, 2007

    Feature Article

    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.

  • Historic Preservation and Green Building: A Lasting Relationship
    January 2, 2007

    Feature Article

    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.

  • Could Passivhaus High-Rise Become the Norm?
    May 2, 2017

    News Brief

    Report indicates that designing tall urban residential buildings to the Passivhaus standard is achievable and worth the added cost.

  • Our Economy is Broken (and We Can Fix It)
    April 4, 2017


    Green building practitioners must take on the challenge of our broken economy, in our work and in our lives.

  • How RECs Work—and Why You Might Not Own Your Clean Energy
    February 7, 2017


    Even if you buy into a solar farm or host an array, someone else can claim the benefits. Here’s how to get what you expect.

  • No More Condensation on Chilled Beams
    February 7, 2017

    Product Review

    Semco’s Neuton pump module could simplify installation of chilled beams, eliminate condensation problems, and provide improved zone control.

  • Treated Wood for Ground Contact, Minus the Toxic Pesticides
    September 7, 2016

    Product Review

    Accoya, now code-approved for fungus and termite resistance, relies on acetylation as a benign alternative to conventional pressure-treated wood.