Q. Do the long term benefits of “green” design elements outweigh any potential higher costs?
A. While a desire to incorporate certain green elements into a commercial construction project can sound daunting, an analysis of commercial construction data shows us that a significant number of projects report minimal or no cost increase to incorporate reasonable levels of sustainable design. So, the answer is yes.
Of course, depending on the type, scope and size of a project, there can be additional initial cost when incorporating green design elements into a project. But many studies show that the average increase in first-cost premium can be as low as 1% to 2% to include moderate levels of sustainable design.
With that being said, one of the keys to incorporating green elements into a building project is to have a greening discussion early in the design process. Many issues pertaining to initial cost overruns can be alleviated by developing a dialogue early in the schematic phase by the design and construction team, subcontractors and material suppliers. The requested green elements should be clearly outlined and detailed during the design development phase, confirming the capital and operating benefits over the expected life of the building are real. By providing that information, the building owner will have a better understanding of the true value of such an investment.