February 24, 2017 | Liz Austin

Here’s why going green just might help you save some green.

When we talk about green buildings — and the environmental initiatives that inspire them — we often run up against a common misconception: that these projects are overly idealistic and cost-inefficient. In reality, nothing could be farther from the truth.

As a number of studies have shown, going green doesn’t just save the planet: it can save companies a significant amount of money, too. But don’t just take my word for it — here’s some hard evidence that sustainable building practices are as cost-efficient as they are environmentally beneficial.

Building Green Won’t Break the Bank

While it is often assumed that opting for green construction techniques requires increased financial output from the developer, there’s actually no need for environmentally-friendly construction to cost more — particularly when businesses employ cost-effective strategies and program management from the get-go. As compared to traditional construction costs, the overwhelming majority of green-certified buildings show a 0% to 4% increase in upfront capital expenditures.

Remember, building green doesn’t necessitate grand, sometimes expensive gestures, such as the installation of costly solar panels: it can be as simple as using recycled materials in construction, or repurposing the framework of an old building rather than constructing a new one. In fact, considering the lower initial construction cost, adaptive reuse is often the most financially viable option. Plus, there are plenty of tax benefits available to those who build green — and let’s not forget the increased value for rental and resale.

As construction pro Mike Schoenecker points out, the increased efficiency of eco-friendly buildings is also a fantastic financial incentive, since businesses that do not pursue sustainable options can end up spending more money over time on frequent building maintenance and a traditional, non-renewable energy supply. In fact, a recent Green Design infographic notes that for each $4 investment per square-foot of green building, property owners can save an average of $58 per square foot over 20 years; and businesses that invest in green materials should on average expect to recoup their expenditure by as much as seven times in future savings. Combine that with a reduction in energy and water costs, and your business is saving some serious money.

How to Adopt a Green Model

So, how can you transform your office into a money-saving green machine? There are plenty of routes businesses can take to improve their environmental impact.

Adaptive reuse has recently surfaced as a socially conscious method by which businesses can simultaneously preserve historic buildings and cut down on construction costs. Research shows that urban districts with fewer brand new constructions (i.e. a higher number of historic buildings) support diversity, provide opportunity, and are generally more affordable. It’s also likely to be a selling point for younger companies looking to become intimate fixtures of their communities.

Another excellent way to ensure the long-term environmental-friendliness of newly constructed buildings is by attaining LEED certification. LEED aims to establish an official standard for efficient use of resources across design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, and for that reason many developers view LEED as a construction priority.

Perhaps more immediately, LEED certification has been shown to boost rental premiums by as much as 17.3%. Though the highest level of LEED certification (Platinum) can increase construction costs by as much as 4.5 to 8.5%, LEED Silver tends to only precipitate an increase of 0 to 3.3% — meaning that in most cases, the long-term benefits of LEED will vastly outweigh the costs. With careful thought and planning, you can not only reduce your carbon footprint, but also decrease the financial strains on your company for years to come.

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