Real Estate

The green mindset of proactive construction

There are many reasons to build green. Only one outdated reason not to build green remains. Cost has always been the biggest and most tangible objection to the shift to sustainability.

Cost resistance is losing its credibility. Cost at the expense of the environment and accompanied by high energy costs no longer makes sense, or is that the pennies.

The Obama Administration has invested in the green movement. The government has shown unprecedented support for the value and future of sustainable construction. Obama’s stimulus package has set in motion plans to create about 3.5 million green energy jobs over the next two years. The private sector has been slower than the public sector to respond to the merits of green building.

Not all private sector cost resistance is unfounded. In the formative years of the green movement, the costs of sustainable technology were prohibitive. These costs required a true commitment to the future and to the green movement. The return on investment was missing. However, as sustainable technology has evolved and the demand for equipment has increased, the cost of the technology has decreased substantially.

Reports from the National Association of Realtors indicate that the costs associated with sustainable green building have dropped significantly. Recent estimates place new green building costs at 1-1.5% above traditional building costs. Meanwhile, the energy saving range can bring 15-35% saving.

In the 1970s, the green movement began to gain momentum. In those early years, the principles of sustainable construction tended to be localized and poorly defined. What was green to one developer was a waste of time and money to another.

Over time, architects, real estate companies, homeowners, and construction companies have compiled both tangible and theoretical research that has made sense of the principle of going green.

The green ideal preserves and restores habitat while eventually producing and exporting resources, materials, energy, and water rather than consuming these products. It is a lofty goal. Applied to green building, the principles strive to create a building whose useful life ensures a healthy living and working environment while maximizing energy efficiency and minimizing disruption to land, water, energy and resources. Green site locations should be minimally invasive and restored as close to their natural condition as possible upon completion of the project.

Experienced green developers and architects have found that the greener the commitment, the greater the savings and the greater the property appreciation. Green is now in demand. Tenants want a healthy and responsible environment, and they are willing to pay for it.

To control construction costs, developers must make concept decisions early. Defining environmental goals allows for effective construction management, but also avoids costly changes as construction progresses. What developers learn is that every green component is backed by another green decision. Proper insulation and the use of light and solar energy reduce the cost of the heating and cooling system. Proper water retention can reduce operating costs and consumption. Developers should get a full site analysis and work with their architects to maximize green return.

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