The concept of Green Buildings has risen to the status of a revolution in the past decade and rightly so. With the world getting more crowded, we are on the verge of facing the depletion of vital natural resources. Conventional building designs have suited well for some decades in the past but their limitations and adverse effects are glaring hard on our faces today. The world is already fighting hard to create more sources for energy generation, most oil rigs have been sucked empty and we are facing the ill effects of climate change like never before. The construction industry has been a major contributor to the growing amount of pollution in our environment. Construction raw materials like cement and fly ash have rendered the air unsuitable for breathing in many cities. Also, conventional construction has sucked up the underground water reserves to such an extent that cities like Cape Town and Bangalore and facing drinking water crisis. Added to this is the cost of running conventional buildings.
Green buildings are the only chance we have to save ourselves from a fatal future. While the world is still trying to advocate the idea, many are in the misconception of increasing costs with green building construction. We do realize the advantages of energy efficient, high performance and self-sustainable buildings but at the same time shy away from the increased complexity of constructing the same. Well, here’s to debunking the myth and get you more comfortable with the idea of living green:
Green is Affordable
Depending on how green your building is (green specification); you will be saving between 25 and 40% of operational costs after the initial years. This is over the fact that you get the advantages of higher quality of air, better daylighting, and overall well being of the occupants and the environment around.
Consider Green Buildings from the context of conventional goals of Affordable Housing:
- Affordability: While there has been no systematic study to the costs associated with green building construction, one of the recent reports by Newecology states that “development costs of green buildings ranged between 18% below to 9% above the costs of conventional affordable housing projects”. Further, you should also be including the added value health and comfort for residents. A healthier living environment also cuts back your medical expenses apart from the fact that you feel good!
- Performance: Green technologies and architecture improve the durability of the building to a great extent and minimizes the costs of refurbishments, repairs or regular maintenance. Better insulation, the right amount of ventilation, and stronger building envelope also offers a better performing asset while adding to the resale value.
- Health: The construction of green buildings is carefully designed around the heath of the residents and the environment around. Reduced emissions, better indoor air quality, reduced need for artificial insulation (HVAC) and a cleaner environment is the perfect mix you should be living with.
Myth – Green Buildings Cost More
The common perception is that green building construction costs more and consequently not the best way to approach affordable housing schemes. However, recent studies have proved otherwise. It’s true that the construction of sustainable homes does ask for the slightly premium price but the long-term benefits always exceed incremental capital costs. Imagine if you are investing in a solar panel that can take care of your energy needs for the rest of your life. It’s true that installing a solar panel as opposed to sourcing electricity in a conventional way is much more expensive but in the long run, you would end up saving more! According to builders, “construction costs of green buildings are about 5% higher than conventional homes but the difference in costs gets covered within the first 3-4 years, along with a great reduction in operational costs”. Think of a green building as an investment that guarantees multiplied returns.
However, developers and home owners looking for a green building that doesn’t cost more than conventional constructions need to come up with a precise cost, schedule, and environment analysis. It’s true that a building is, in fact, thousands of small pieces combined together and none of it is a small decision. You need to understand whether you want to invest in a granite sculpture for the lobby or a better air quality and insulation. A good design can save you huge in the short term itself. It’s a balancing act!
What’s holding People back from Green Building?
The only thing that limits most is the awareness about green construction. A green building doesn’t take away any of the comforts of a luxurious conventional home/office. However, we have always been shy of taking the risk with something that we have little idea about. There’s a learning curve to green building and we hope to soon graduate to a point when green buildings are tried and tested products.
Green buildings are not just a concept that can save the world but also make our world healthier, richer and safer. It’s time to research more and the sooner we realize the benefits, the more the chances of survival for us as a species.
Curated by editor at Wienerberger India