Making the

Green Building
Business Case

Lance A. Williams, Ph. D., LEED® AP Executive Director, USGBC-LA

There have been many significant objections raised to making the business case for green building. They have included:
• • • • Perceived first costs of building green Return on Investment, especially for persons with a short-term financial stake in a building project Operations and Maintenance planning for the greening of existing buildings Performance measurement, particularly with respect to energy efficiency, effective materials and resources use, and regional considerations such as water availability in drought-tinged areas Market acceptance of green building, sustainability, and the LEED® system Regulatory mandates barriers and resistance to legislative

• •

Market Forces Spur Interest in Change

What has occurred is a burgeoning interest manifest by persons who themselves have become, or who have sponsored staff and colleagues, as advocates of environmental change. USGBC describes it as a community of industry-based advocates who promote the triple bottom line of economic, environmental, and community-based elements. As a result, USGBC and LEED® have become Topic A in building industry circles.

The mission statement expressed in the acronym LEED®-i.e., Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-has come to fruition. Try Googling USGBC and LEED® and you will get the picture. Within a decade of roll-out, LEED® has become the cornerstone, go-to benchmark standard by which building performance is now measured. LEED® has evolved from a one-size fits all standard encompassing all elements of buildings to one that has many part of the whole. First there was LEED®-NC 1.0 which measured efficiency in new and existing buildings, commercial interiors, core and shell, retail, neighborhood development, mixed-use, schools, hospitals and now, judged by this event---hotels.

Now LEED®-NC is nearing the 3.0 release stage and there are separate rating categories either released or in development for all of the above building types cited in the previous slide. USGBC is very democratic in its feedback process and relies heavily on case studies, economic data, and a wide variety of metrics to make the business case for green building.

Change Elements
The associated market forces that have changed the attitudes of many industry leaders toward green building and sustainability can be characterized thusly:

Change Elements (continued) of scientists The Al Gore factor: publicizing the views
in ways that the general public can weigh in on the debate regarding the harmful impacts of carbon emissions and greenhouse gases Broad-based industry education building, LEED® and sustainability regarding green

• •

Peer pressure and increasing numbers of professionals becoming LEED®- Accredited to consult in the creation and operation of sustainable buildings Creation and renovation of buildings according to sustainable standards Case studies which demonstrate the effectiveness of LEED® standards

• •

Change Elements (continued) Demonstrated increased ROI and reduced first
costs

• Benefits of adopting green O&M strategies through effective planning outlined through the LEED® system • RFPs and RFQs that require sustainable components in building projects • Industry professionals considering the fate of the world which they are leaving behind to future generations • Creation of entrepreneurial opportunities and increased growth of the green industry sector • Media interest and support for green building and sustainability as a general concept and LEED® specifically

Future Needs
• Ongoing education of professionals and consumers • Training professionals from all industry sectors • Professional sustainability certification training programs instituted as early as high school • Successful examples of green, sustainable projects

Future Needs (continued)

• Fostering incentives for builders and developers to build green • Green building becomes a completely viable, large-scale market force and the first option in a projet • Growing new sustainable technologies • Emphasizing the value-added advantages of green buildings, including increased worker productivity and decreased absenteeism • Emphasizing the cost-neutral aspects and

It is clear that green building and sustainability will grow as an area of interest and continue to garner attention as people become more and more aware of both the inherent challenges and opportunities.

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