Economics of Green Building

by Emily Andrews – Executive Director, U.S. Green Building Council – Missouri Gateway Chapter

Upon finding out that I am involved with the U.S. Green Building Council and efforts to transform our built environment, the first question I often hear from friends, relatives, reporters and perfect strangers is, “Doesn’t green building cost more?” And my answer is always, “That depends on how you look at things.” So often, the first cost or the up-front cost of something weighs most heavily for Americans. We think about what something will cost right now, but not about how much an up-front investment in a quality product might save us in the long run. I could be talking about shoes, buildings or just about anything. But buildings are expensive no matter what – expensive to build, to renovate and to maintain. So shouldn’t we be thinking pretty hard about how we invest in buildings so that we can reduce operating costs and our use of natural resources while creating healthier spaces with improved indoor environmental quality for occupants?

Study after study shows that green building is not only here to stay, but that it’s a good business decision too. A recent study published in a 2011 issue of Real Estate Economics found that third-party certified buildings realize a premium in both rent and building value. ENERGY STAR buildings show a 4 percent rental premium and 26 percent building value premium. LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) buildings show 5 percent and 25 percent respectively.

Even though studies and statistics like this are released every year, I still get that same question about cost. And I suspect many others working towards our mission of making every building a green building do to. Hopefully, we can begin putting this question to rest at the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter’s February 14 program on “Quantifying Financial Benefits and Bankability of LEED Projects.”

Our speakers – Marc Lopata of Microgrid Energy and Rich Greene of Clarus Advisors – will examine the economics of green building and LEED certification. To address the question “Doesn’t green building cost more?” from a broader perspective, our speakers will use real life examples and case studies to make the economic case for green building. They will quantify the economic benefits of green building by placing a value on energy and water efficiency, healthy indoor air quality and smart procurement. They will also offer advice on how to work with financial institutions and how to pursue funding for green building projects.

If increased cost is one of the first things that comes to your mind when you hear ‘green building’, please join us on Tuesday, February 14 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm at the Alberici Headquarters to learn how green building can actually save you money in the long run.

To learn more or to RSVP, visit www.usgbc-mogateway.org or give us a call at 314-577-0854.