Making the Case for Green Building

To those of us entrenched in the green building world the benefits seem obvious. Why would anyone choose to build in a way that isn’t comfortable, healthy, and energy efficient? In the process of designing and building green, however, we keep running into others who are not yet as convinced. For those situations, it’s useful to be able to spell out the benefits.

The building owner ultimately calls the shots, so getting that person or group on board early is essential. But not every owner will find the same arguments compelling: a hospital board may opt for green because certain green features promote healing, a commercial office property holding company may incorporate green features to speed the lease-out and thus lower carrying costs, a federal agency may desire green features to improve employee morale and increase job retention.

Even within a single project, different team members often have different reasons for promoting a green agenda. The architect may promote environmental measures because she feels it’s the right thing to do. The facilities manager who will take care of a building may recognize inherent durability and maintenance advantages. And the owner may look strictly at bottom-line financial benefits of green.

Note that while a green building might theoretically be able to achieve all of these benefits, most green buildings do not. For any specific project, it is important that any claims about the benefits are associated with green strategies that are actually being implemented—or at least considered—for that project. Further, there are green buildings in which benefits that are not achieved—such as durability—may render other benefits irrelevant. If poor moisture control results in premature building failure and the growth of mold, those problems could undo key benefits of the building, such as providing a healthy indoor environment. Green building is not only about adding together different green features—and green benefits—it is about how these systems fit together to create a building that works.

There are lots of reasons for building green­, none necessarily better than others. This article examines the spectrum of reasons, providing short explanations for 46 benefits. Even if many of these items are already familiar, this list may provide some new insights and help you convince your next clients to pursue an even deeper shade of green.... (continued)

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