This article examines the findings of two separate studies that conclude that “green” building has yet to prove its financial viability. A study by NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association of Herndon, Virginia, found that a 30 percent improvement over the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) code – a benchmark cited by many prominent efficiency advocates – is not financially feasible for most class-A office construction. The conclusion of the NAIOP president: developers would not be able to recoup the costs from energy-savings for at least a decade. Furthermore, he notes that the costs of achieving these higher-efficiency targets vary so widely across climate zones that a “one-size-fits-all” approach imposed by legislation or other mandates simply won’t work.
Meanwhile, a survey by a Los Angeles law firm and Constructive Technologies Group (CTG) of Irvine, CA found that 93.4 percent of more than 900 respondents believed that green building was worth the time and effort. The Third Annual Green Building Survey, however, found only 66.2 percent agreed it was worth obtaining official LEED certification from the U.S. Green Council, down from 76 percent in its second annual survey of last year.
On the bright (green) side: most respondents felt that the cost premium for green construction over traditional building is less than 4 percent. Furthermore, notes the author, recent increases in energy costs lead 74 percent of respondents to indicate that they are more likely to incorporate green elements into future projects.