Benefits That Build a Business Case

The business case for green development is based on a framework of benefits: economic, financial, productivity, risk management, public relations and marketing, and funding.* Many people also describe these benefits in terms of the "Triple Bottom Line," with such names as "People, Planet, and Profits." The key issue here is that the benefits will vary by type of ownership, type of use, level of investment and similar drivers. It's very important, in my view, for building team members to become as articulate about the benefit side of the green building equation as they are about the cost

*Cascadia Region Green Building Council [online], ProjectID=833, accessed April 2008.

'U.S. Green Building Council, Making the Business Case for High-Performance Green Buildings (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Green Building Council, 2002), available at:[0], accessed March 6, 2007. See also Environmental Building News, 14, no. 4 (April 2005), available at:, accessed March 6, 2007.

side, to become as knowledgeable about financial benefits and considerations as they are about the technical issues concerning their own specialties. I have found professionals in all disciplines that are unable to clearly articulate the business side of green buildings. In my view, a critical professional skill is to learn how your clients make money and to become fluent in the language of business and investment. Most clients take it for granted that you'll be able to do a good job of design and construction. However, they want you to understand and articulate the reasons for green building in terms that make sense to them and which they can report to key people in their own organization.

Table 6.1 presents a sample of the wide-ranging benefits of green buildings, examined in detail in the following sections.


1. Utility cost savings for energy and water, typically 30 to 50 percent, along with reduced "carbon footprint" from energy savings

2. Maintenance cost reductions from commissioning, operator training, and other measures to improve and ensure proper systems integration and ongoing performance monitoring

3. Increased value from higher net operating income (NOI) and increased public relations for commercial buildings

4. Tax benefits for specific green building investments such as energy conservation and solar power, and local incentives, depending on location

5. More competitive real estate holdings for private sector owners, over the long run, including higher resale value (see the CoStar study cited earlier)

6. Productivity improvements for long-term building owners, typically 3 to 5 percent

7. Health benefits, including reduced absenteeism, typically 5 percent or more

8. Risk management, including faster lease up and sales for private developers, and less risk of employee exposure to irritating or toxic chemicals in building materials, furniture, and furnishings

9. Marketing benefits, especially for developers, large corporations, and consumer products companies

10. Public relations benefits, especially for developers and public agencies

11. Recruitment and retention of key employees and higher morale

12. Fund raising for colleges and nonprofits

13. Increased availability of both debt and equity funding for developers

14. Demonstration of commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship; shared values with key stakeholders

Getting Started With Solar

Getting Started With Solar

Do we really want the one thing that gives us its resources unconditionally to suffer even more than it is suffering now? Nature, is a part of our being from the earliest human days. We respect Nature and it gives us its bounty, but in the recent past greedy money hungry corporations have made us all so destructive, so wasteful.

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