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Study: Making a Case for Building Green

Friday, March 15, 2013

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Building green makes “clear business sense”—it’s not just about saving the planet, according to a recent report.

Today, green buildings can be delivered at a price comparable to conventional buildings, recover their costs through operational savings, and create a more productive workplace, according to The Business Case for Green Building: A Review of the Costs and Benefits for Developers, Investors and Occupants.

World Green Building Council
World Green Building Council

Building green does not necessarily need to cost more, according to the World Green Building Council's recent report.

Authored by the World Green Building Council, a network of national Green Building Councils from more than 90 countries, the study highlights a number of benefits of building green.

“This report synthesizes credible evidence from around the world on green buildings into one collective resource, and the evidence presented highlights that sustainable buildings provide tangible benefits and make clear business sense,” said Jane Henley, CEO of WorldGBC.

Costs Analyzed

Building green may come at an additional cost, but the premium is not “as high as is perceived by the development industry,” the study says. 

Moreover, it says, research indicates that building green need not necessarily cost more. When costs, program management and environmental strategies are addressed in the development process at the project's outset, overall costs go down, the report says.

“From risk mitigation across a building portfolio and city-wide economic benefits, to the improved health and well-being of individual building occupants, the business case for green building will continue to evolve as markets mature,” Henley says.


The World Green Building Council presented its global report at Ecobuild 2013 in London, UK.

“Indeed, we have already seen this momentum grow globally where in more and more places, green is now becoming the status quo.”

The 124-page report is available as a free download.

Key Findings

WorldGBC highlights these findings from the report. 

  • Design and Construction Costs: Green building design and construction costs are declining overall as building codes worldwide become stricter, supply chains mature, and the industry becomes more skilled at delivering green buildings.
  • Asset Value: Sustainable buildings will become more marketable as investors and occupants learn and care more about the impact of the built environment. In addition, some markets have demonstrated a link between green buildings and an improved ability to attract tenants and command higher rents and sale prices.
  • Operating Costs: Green buildings have been shown to save money by reducing energy and water consumption as well as operation and maintenance costs. The energy savings typically exceed any design and construction cost premiums within a reasonable payback period.
  • Workplace Productivity and Health: An emerging body of evidence suggests that the physical characteristics of buildings and indoor environments can influence worker productivity and occupant health, resulting in bottom-line benefits for businesses.
  • Risk Mitigation: Certain risk factors can affect the rental income and future value of real estate assets. These risk factors include mandatory envirornmental disclosure laws, building codes, and laws banning inefficient buildings.

Closing the Case

Starting with neighborhood- and community development, the green building industry can deliver on “large-scale economic priorities such as climate change mitigation, energy security, resource conservation and job creation, long-term resilience and quality of life,” the report says.

The report was produced in partnership with PRP Environmental and sponsored by Skanska, Grosvenor, and the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council/Estidama.

The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) is a network of national Green Building Councils from around the world. The council calls itself the largest international organization influencing the green building marketplace.


Tagged categories: Business matters; Business operations; Facility Managers; Good Technical Practice; Green building; Green coatings; Green design; Market; Research; U.S. Green Building Council; World Green Building Council

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