This article explores the topic of “green” office design and the question of why more buildings are not designed to be environmentally friendly.  Some of the blame is placed on poor communications and ineffective collaboration among all the players, from architect to developer to tenants, with each group willing to embrace substance if only someone else would.  Consensus over who should be taking the lead is lacking, money is a key consideration, and there is no straightforward quantifiable business case for the “sustainability” of operational cost savings of environmental design in commercial property.

The author proceeds to present a case for environmentally-friendly design based on a series of five buildings that include energy-efficient features that result in cash savings.  Among the green efforts include upflow ventilation (rather than traditional fan coil systems) that saves money while reducing pollution levels by up to 30%.

The author admits that energy savings are small in relation to total project costs, but points to recent survey findings, including:

  • Environmental issues have become a significant property requirement of occupiers.
  • US and UK occupiers are demanding whole-life occupancy costs of buildings, including maintenance and running cost figures for offices.
  • 75% of UK and US occupiers would be prepared to pay a premium for lower-maintenance operational costs, with half of these willing to pay between 10 and 20 percent.
  • All occupiers surveyed would find an environmentally well-designed building with good whole-life cost figures more appealing than a competing building with lower environmental credentials.  They also believe that environmentally responsible buildings can contribute to staff motivation and retention.

Source: Rachel Irvine, Estates Gazette; August 23, 2003

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