Study Finds Building Green Outweighs Cost Premium

"Greening Buildings and Communities: Costs and Benefits" is based on extensive financial and technical analysis of 150 green buildings across the United States and in 10 countries and provides the most detailed findings to date on the costs and financial benefits of building green, according to a Nov. 19 press release.

Among the study's key findings:

•Green buildings cost, on average, less than 2 percent more to build than conventional non-green buildings and provide a wide range of financial, health and social benefits.

•Green buildings reduce energy use by an average of 33 percent, resulting in significant cost savings.

•Green buildings create roughly $1/square foot of value in increased employment by shifting spending from fossil fuel-based energy to more labor intensive domestic jobs in energy efficiency, renewable construction and new green industries.

"This report provides the first large-scale data resource on the cost and benefits of green buildings and sustainable community designs," said Henry Kelly, president of the Federation of American Scientists. "The careful research and documentation provides powerful evidence that major reductions of energy and water use in buildings can be achieved at costs far lower than new supplies of energy. It will be an invaluable resource for years to come."

With buildings currently consuming 40 percent of the world's energy, including two-thirds of its electricity, the marginal cost increase associated with green buildings is typically partially offset by savings elsewhere. For example, a more efficient building envelope can reduce the size of heating or cooling systems needed to provide a comfortable indoor temperature; hi-tech waterless urinals reduce plumbing requirements; and technologically advanced daylighting and window systems can decrease lighting cost while improving light quality.

The report was supported by Good Energies, a leading global investor in renewable energy and energy efficiency industries. Select findings from the study can be found at: The complete findings of the study will be published as a book in the summer of 2009.