The most common reason cited in studies for not incorporating green elements into building designs is the increase in first cost. People who are green averse are happy to relate anecdotes of premiums in excess of 30% to make their buildings green. These numbers are simply not, however, borne out by the facts, as evidenced by many studies of the cost of green building. Even though there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the cost question, it is clear from the substantial weight of evidence in the marketplace that reasonable levels of sustainable design can be incorporated into most building types at little or no additional cost.
In addition, sustainable materials and systems are becoming more affordable, sustainable design elements are becoming widely accepted in the mainstream of project design, and building owners and tenants are beginning to demand and value those features. It is important to note, however, that advanced or innovative sustainable features can add significantly to the cost of a project and that these must be valued independently to ensure that they are cost- and/or environmentally effective.
The cost for incorporating sustainable design elements will depend greatly on a wide range of factors, including building type, project location, local climate, site conditions, and the familiarity of the project team with sustainable design. In most cases, these factors have a relatively small but still noticeable impact on the overall cost of sustainability. Cumulatively, however, they can make quite a difference; for example, the cost of greening a laboratory building in Houston will be quite different from the cost of greening an office building in San Francisco.
Clearly there can be no single, across-the-board answer to the question “What does green cost?” On the other hand, it is possible, and quite easy, to answer the question “What will green cost me on my project?” It is also possible, and quite easy, to manage those costs so that sustainable features can be delivered in a cost-effective and efficient manner.