Green building is smart building. Aside from their obvious benefit to the environment, green buildings deliver financial savings, are more comfortable, healthier, return higher productivity rates and have higher resale values. See this infographic for a quick look at why building green makes so much sense. And for a more detailed understanding of green building refer to the second page of our green building basics guide: Why build green?
The environmental impact of buildings
- 50% of natural resources
- 25% of landfill waste
- 12% of water consumption
- 10% of airborne particulates
- 35% of greenhouse gases
- 39% of energy use
Conventional home = Average building costs of $125/sq. ft. = $150,000
Annual energy costs = $3000
Green home = Average building costs at a 2% premium = $153,000
Annual energy costs = $2250 (25% savings)
Average payback period = 3 years (without government rebates, 4 to 5 years)
Perception vs. reality
LEED-certified buildings cost on average 1 to 2 percent more than comparable conventional buildings, yet public perception is quite a different thing.
When asked “if there is a significant cost difference between green building and standard building products and practices?” building professionals answered:
62% – Yes
26% – No
12% – Unsure
Other financial benefits
Property value – green buildings show higher property values and average sale price increases of more than $20 per sq. ft.
Decreased demand on infrastructure – high performing buildings demand less energy and water, which decreases the strain on common resources and allows infrastructure capacity to extend farther.
Increased productivity and attendance – productivity gains of 2-10% and a reduction of 35% for absenteeism have been reported.
Improved sales – 40% increase in sales reported in buildings that use skylights rather than electric lighting.
Gas savings – A green built community can result in annual gas savings of as much as $1000 per house-due to proximity to necessary infrastructure.
Investment decision – Leed buildings have an ROI of 15 to 20% just based on energy efficiency measures.
Environmental benefits of building green
Indoor environmental quality (IEQ)
- 9 to 50% reduction in sickness
- 9 to 20% reduction in communicable respiratory diseases
- 18 to 25% reduction in allergies and asthma
- 20 to 25% reduction in non-specific health and discomfort
- Reduced sprawl
- Preservation of natural spaces, wildlife habitat and native species
- Minimized reliance on cars from improved access to infrastructure
- Reduced soil erosion from sustainable landscaping
- Minimized light pollution from reduced and optimized lighting
Energy and atmosphere
- Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
- Reduced energy consumption
Materials and resources
- Waste reduction
- Locally sourced materials and resources
- Minimized material usage due to durability
- Renewable resources
- Natural materials
- Reduced water consumption
- Water reuse and collection
Sustainable Rhythm: Opening the Door to Green Building
GSA: LEED Cost Study
Greening Buildings and Communities: Costs and Benefits
Costing Green: A Comprehensive Cost Database and Budgeting Methodology
Resource Efficient Housing Inc.
ENERGY STAR: ENERGY STAR benefits
City of Edmonton: Residential Property Tax & Utility Charges Survey
USGBC: Making the Business Case for High Performance Green Buildings
Green Value: Green Buildings, Growing Assets
Green Building Canada: Doug McLenahan interview
A Business Case for Green Buildings in Canada
Benefits of Building Green
Health and Productivity Gains from Better Indoor Environments
and their Implications for the U.S. Department of Energy
Why Go Green?