Green buildings, those designed and constructed to generate the least negative impact on the environment, are gaining popularity but the industry is still often misunderstood. A recent survey conducted by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development illustrates the point.
While almost everyone agrees that we need green buildings in order to minimize adverse environmental impacts, the cost of such technologies and building materials are thought to be prohibitively expensive. The World Business Council survey finds that the actual costs are overestimated by as much as 300 percent.
In a somewhat ironic turn of events, it’s the people most involved with the green buildings industry who overestimate the costs of such construction. Members of the real estate and construction industries estimated the cost of green buildings to be an average of 17 percent higher than the cost of traditional construction.
Actual figures, however, indicate the typical cost of green buildings is only about five percent higher than buildings constructed using standard methods and materials. The cost of the energy savings involved with day-to-day operations of the green buildings, once construction is complete, are thought to be high enough to quickly recoup the five percent initial expenditure during construction.
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The state of Washington has recently enacted legislature that requires green buildings standards to be applied to all new construction and all renovations done that involve public buildings that cover more than 5,000 square feet of floor space. This law was enacted in 2005 and it covers government offices, public schools, and other buildings under public jurisdiction.
The projected savings in energy Washington expects to realize are substantial. The expected savings in overall energy is projected at 20 percent. Water and wastewater expenses are expected to be reduced by 20 and 38 percent, respectively. Construction waste from these green buildings is expected to be reduced by as much as 22 percent.
With savings in energy costs and consumption expected in the double digits, it seems that green buildings are a wise investment in the future of the natural environment. These buildings provide a safer, healthier environment indoors, too, thereby saving on the expense of illness, lost work, and reduced production when the buildings’ occupants are too sick to go to work.