Green Buildings: Adding Value and Cutting Costs

Building construction has a substantial impact on the environment as well as the economy. Last year, buildings in the U.S. represented nearly 40% of total energy use, 14% percent of total water consumption, 68% percent of total electricity consumption, and 38% percent of the carbon dioxide emissions. 

However, through the implementation of green building strategies, you can maximize both the economic and environmental performance of your building. The goal of green building is to create structures through environmentally responsible and resource-efficient processes that leave the smallest carbon footprint possible. Many building owners have already started taking these processes into account when constructing or renovating their buildings to cut costs, preserve the environment, and add value to their property.

What makes a building green?

A green building implements different processes, systems, and mechanisms to increase the efficient use of resources and reduce waste and pollution. Although characteristics vary from building to building, the main components of green facilities include:

  • Energy efficiency and renewable energy
  • Water efficiency
  • Use of environmentally friendly construction materials
  • Waste and toxics reduction
  • Indoor air quality Sustainable development

Environmental Impact

The building sector is extremely fast growing and, therefore, has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach energy savings of up to 50% by the year 2050. But it’s important now to consider the environmental impact of your building, whether you are building a new structure or retrofitting it. 

The most important and evident environmental benefits of green buildings are savings in energy, water, and construction materials throughout their life cycle.

Energy Savings

Green buildings save both embodied energy—used to extract, process, transport, and install building materials during the construction process—and operating energy to provide services such as heating and lighting for the facility.

The use of renewable energy during construction reduces the environmental impact of the building. Strategic installation of building components and energy sources can further reduce electric energy consumption.  

For an efficient operation of the building, designers and architects can strategically install high-performance windows to reduce the need for electric lighting during the day. Extra insulation in walls, ceilings, and floors help save energy during winter and summer. 

Water Savings

Buildings account for 14% percent of total water consumption in the United States (approximately 15 trillion gallons per year). Green buildings use protection and conservation systems for an efficient use of water, as well as practices that help reuse and recycle water to keep consumption at a minimum.

Through these efforts and systems aimed at decreasing water usage—such as ultra-low flush toilets and low-flow showerheads and faucets—green buildings are expected to reduce water usage by 15 percent. Water can be reused for other purposes through dual piping, and the installation of bidets can eliminate toilet paper use to reduce sewer traffic.

Sustainable Use of Materials

Industrial materials, such as coal combustion products, foundry sand, and construction and demolition debris, can be recycled and used for building purposes. This reduces the environmental impact of extracting and processing new materials for construction.

Cost-Efficiency & Value

Savings in resources automatically result in monetary savings. Cutting energy, water, and construction material usage reduces your building’s operation costs. When your building is good for the environment, it is good for your pocket.  

Green buildings report almost 20% lower maintenance costs than their traditional counterparts, while the operation costs of retrofitted green buildings decrease by almost 10% in one year. 

Reduced Costs by Energy and Water Savings

In the 2015-2018 period, green buildings certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) are estimated to save $1.2 billion in energy, $149.5 million in water, $715.2 million in maintenance, and $54.2 million in wastes. 

Lower Construction Costs

Green buildings use recycled industrial material and use water-recycling systems that reduce construction costs. The use of solar, wind, hydro, or biomass power also help reduce the electricity bill.

Higher Property Value

Investment in green building increases property value substantially. The average expected increase in value of green buildings is 4%. Lowered maintenance, operation, and energy costs make the return on investment from green building a quick one—a green retrofit building project is generally anticipated to have paid for itself in seven years.

If you are planning the construction or remodeling of your building, going green is something to consider. Not only will you help preserve the environment, but you will also save money and add value to your structure.

Green building and management is the future of construction; taking its advantages and benefits into account are a must if you want to gain more relevance and make a higher profit.