What is a green building?
Green buildings are buildings that are environmentally responsible and economic as well as resource efficient. A green building helps to reduce the adverse effects of a building on the environment by keeping the carbon footprint as low as possible and it does it without sacrificing the comfort and convenience of a regular building.
Are Green buildings really worth the investment?
Green buildings are without a doubt more expensive to construct than conventional buildings. World Business Council for Sustainable Development conducted a survey which found that on an average, green buildings cost 17% more than a conventional one. However, another analysis of 170 existing green buildings found that on average green buildings only cost 2 percent more.
Green buildings provide benefits such as resource savings in energy and water. Green buildings that achieved the Green star certification in South Africa have managed to save at least 40-50% of their energy costs on average and reduced water consumption as well as expenditure by 20-30%. Similarly, green buildings that achieved the LEED certification in the US have consumed 25% less energy and 11% less water than traditional buildings and saved a substantial amount of energy. The average time it takes to break even from green buildings is estimated to be six years from energy savings.
The benefits don’t apply to the owners alone, but extend to the surrounding environment and ultimately, our planet. Green buildings help reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the environment and devise environment-friendly methods as a replacement to those detrimental to it. According to Owemanco, the “Green design” not only helps reduce CO2 emissions in a cost-effective manner but also leads to less energy consumption.
The best non-quantifiable benefits
Various surveys conducted to gauge the impact of green building programs provided increased productivity and improved morale as the most common results. One such survey was conducted by Deloitte in 2008 and it showed that out of the employers that went green, 80% of them reported experiencing greater employee retention, workforce productivity, and improvements in employee health. But the biggest takeaway was that 100 percent of the respondents experienced an increase in their brand equity. The correlation between the green initiatives and productivity isn’t just a myth. It’s real.
According to Harvard’s School of public health, employees in a green building showcase a 101% increase in brain function which was measured by cognitive scores. In addition to this, another study conducted by Park and Yoon states that better ventilation rates, as well as a low concentration of carbon dioxide (both features of a green building), can lead to an 8% increase in productivity. In short, green buildings benefit the health, well-being and the performance of the people working in them. It, in turn, leads to better performance and higher profits along with the sustaining the environment.
Going green has several economic, social, and environmental benefits. Yes, constructing a green building will have higher costs than constructing a conventional building but the multiple benefits that green buildings offer in addition to the fact that substantial energy savings, improved employee productivity, and increased brand equity make them worth the comparatively high initial costs.