Lower Energy Costs
Investments in energy-efficient designs and equipment result in cost savings on energy bills (gas and electricity) and pay for themselves many times over during the life of the building. For example, by incorporating measures such as high-efficiency ductwork, fans and motors, efficient lighting and an energy management system, the SoCal Gas Energy Resource Center building in Downey, CA saves $40,000 per year in energy costs.
Lower Operating and Maintenance Costs
Incorporating efficient, longer life lighting equipment such as LED exit signs and compact fluorescent fixtures saves on maintenance costs. Water conservation measures like efficient appliances and fixtures, and water efficient landscaping can typically save up to 30% on water and sewer bills. For example, water and sewer costs at the Herman Miller factory were reduced by 65% compared to the old facility.
Improved Air Quality / Reduced Global Warming Impacts
Energy-efficient design and the use of renewable energy sources mean less fossil fuel being burned in power plants, resulting in lower air pollutant and carbon dioxide emissions, improved air quality and reduced global warming impacts.
Since green building practices minimize site disturbance, complement alternative transportation policies, reduce, reuse and recycle building materials.
Lower Waste Disposal Fees
Less waste generated at the job site means lower waste disposal or “tipping” fees. The Portland Trailblazers Rose Garden Arena project was able to divert over 50% of its construction and demolition debris, including wood, metal and cardboard, through reuse and recycling. The contractor also diverted large quantities of wallboard, concrete and asphalt. For a recycling cost of $19,000, the contractor avoided an estimated $166,000 in landfill costs.
Less Waste Going to Landfills
The Alameda County Waste Management Authority estimates that construction and demolition waste accounts for 16% of waste going to the landfill. The bulk of this material is wood waste, asphalt roofing, and gypsum wallboard, most of which is salvageable or recyclable.
The use of engineered lumber can require 50% less wood than standard lumber. Certified wood products come from forests which are sustainably managed and harvested. Use of 24 inch on-center framing can also reduce the quantity of wood used in construction, and reduce labor costs. Use of these products and techniques helps to reduce the rate at which trees are cut.
Healthier Indoor Environments
Reducing the levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) in paints, carpets, and adhesives helps improve indoor air quality and therefore, the health of the building occupants. This is consistent with Berkeley’s Healthy Building Policy and may also help avoid possible future costs of litigating and correcting ‘sick building syndrome.’
Green building services and products are major emerging environmental business sectors. By promoting and applying green building practices, Berkeley can stimulate its Eco-Business sector consistent with the City Council’s mandate.
Improved visual and thermal comfort and indoor air quality results in a better work environment. This can improve productivity as well as reduce employee absenteeism. The West Bend Mutual Insurance building in West Bend, Wisconsin, included “environmentally responsive workstations” into its design. The workstations included individual controls for heating, ventilation and lighting. The result was a 16% increase in productivity and a 40% energy savings.