Sustainable (Green) Building: Project Design
Effectively integrating sustainable design elements into projects during project development and design phases can minimize building costs. Conversely, if green design elements are considered late in the design process and designers have to "redesign" the entire project, overall costs can increase significantly.
- Benefits of Green Building Design
- Green Buildings Offer Cost Benefits
- Primers on Cost Issues
- First Cost
- Life-Cycle Cost Method
- Environmental and Economic Assessment Tools
- Environmental Assessment Tools
Green Buildings Offer Cost Benefits
The Costs and Financial Benefits of Green Buildings: A Report to California's Sustainable Building Task Force, "finds that an upfront investment of less than two percent of construction costs yields life cycle savings of over ten times the initial investment."
Primers on Cost and Benefit Issues
- Building Green on a Budget. Environmental Building News (EBN) Volume 8, No. 5, May 1999
- Economic Benefits of Green Building Design-(PowerPoint, 590 KB)
- Managing the Cost of Green Buildings--(PDF, 371 KB)
- What Every State Executive Should Know About Sustainable Buildings-(PowerPoint, 1.6 MB)
Some aspects of design have little or no first cost including site orientation and window and overhang placement. Other sustainable systems that may cost more in the design phase, such as an insulated shell, can be offset by the reduced cost of a smaller mechanical system. This concept is known as "right sizing" of infrastructure and mechanical systems. Material costs can be reduced during the construction phase by dimensional planning-a strategy to design for minimizing framing needs, carpet etc.
Life-Cycle Cost Method
Sustainable buildings can be assessed as cost-effective through the life-cycle cost method, a way of assessing total building cost over time. It consists of:
- Initial costs (design and construction).
- Operating costs (energy, water/sewage, waste, recycling, and other utilities).
- Maintenance, repair, and replacement costs.
- Other environmental or social costs/benefits (impacts on transportation, solid waste, water, energy, infrastructure, worker productivity, outdoor air emissions, etc).
Sustainable buildings are also considered healthy buildings and therefore can decrease worker illness costs. The Blueprint has several activities that aim to better incorporate life-cycle costing into the capital outlay process (Action Item 3).