Although there is a rising acceptance in the concept of Sustainable Building, there are still many challenges in its full adoption and long-term practices. Many owners/developers are concerned about capital outlay or initial costs. However, there are many new products to help identify sustainable building as a separate concept from solar energy, green building, and other forms, which are becoming less costly but without the added benefits associated with sustainable building. Sadly, a vast majority of owners/developers, and consumers, do not know or understand these differences and gained benefits; and unfortunately there is quite a lot of misinformation being released to the general public.
For many years, owners/developers and investors have discussed associated costs with Building Green and the ultimate value it can bring to a project. However, for most, their focus is primarily on capital costs and not on realized savings to ongoing operating costs. To better understand their return on investment, owners/developers should realign their focus on both capital costs and operating costs. Far too many developer/owners focus solely on initial capital outlays. An example of this is a building owner focused on a required return on an investment of 30 percent into a project, calculating solely the capital costs, while neglecting to value the long term savings and benefits.
At first sight, sustainable building appears to have slightly higher initial costs that reduce the return on an investment. However, what is missing from this cost analysis is the savings that are realized in the facility’s annual operating budget from having incorporated the concept of sustainable building. These financial savings ultimately contribute to a higher overall return on investment; thereby, aiding in the offset of the initial cost. The misdirected focus on the short term gain often poses a real stumbling block to significant long term savings.
Green Building Designs
A large part of creating a Green Project are the design and techniques used. Some of these techniques include: increased ventilation control, enhanced temperature control, enhanced lighting control, and increased daylighting, which have shown to significantly increase levels of productivity within the workforce.
Many managers and supervisors report that the increase in indoor air quality, natural lighting and enhanced environmental controls have fostered an increase in productivity, as well as health gains, in the workplace and among educational facilities. These intangible advantages are difficult to quantify when simply calculating a return on investment. However, reduced costs associated with staff turnover and absenteeism, combined with a healthier and happier workforce, can easily be some of the greatest benefits of Green Building. Construction industry insiders argue for energy saving purposes alone, the information collected from data supports the average savings exceed those costs associated with Going Green!
During these economic and environmentally conscious times, cost-efficiency, productivity and concern for the environment must go hand-in-hand. Owners/developers and builders have a choice between a building designed to be healthy and efficient and one that is not. Furthermore, the evidence of negative impacts to our global environment demonstrate there are increased risks in simply continuing to do conventional design and construction. Additionally, as we look to society’s future workforce, Millennials, and generations following, are selecting companies where the work environment is more adapt and shadowing of their lifestyles and consumer choices.
Hopefully, as conventional building techniques slowly become obsolete, more and more owners/developers will look more closely at the overall return and benefit that sustainable building provides to their investment. Through widespread acceptance of this new era in design and Green Building, we will begin to recognize current and future benefits it will provide to society and ongoing generations. It will be at that point when we can gainfully say, “We left the world in better condition than we found it.”
KMI International has managed numerous LEED® Certified projects focused on Green Building Development from concept through to completion. For more information on how KMI can help your current or next project Go Green, contact us at 888.540.4910 or through our website.