The occupants and owners of a building are losing money on every green feature they discard. Architects are in a position to save their clients a great deal of money in the operational costs of a building. After all, a great deal more will be spent on the operations, maintenance, and employees in a building than ever was spent upon initial construction costs.
Green architecture not only provides a healthier and more comfortable environment, it also improves the long-term economic performance of a building or structure. It can incorporate energy and water-efficient technologies, and reduce construction and demolition waste. A green building may bring a higher resale value, and include renewable energy technologies. Air quality and occupant satisfaction are improved by a green structure, and it is easier to maintain and lasts longer (Rabin).
Once you build out of "sticks" (wood), the structure has to be insulated, sheathed, wrapped and waterproofed. All of these weaknesses are opportunities for a green architect to minimize the ecological impact.
Installing the latest photovoltaic cells, or solar panels that collect energy from the sun, can also offset the costs of buying energy from the utility company. This energy can be sold back to the utility company.
Health Benefits of Green Architecture?
The air inside your traditional home can be 2-5 times more polluted than the air outside. That is terrible. You shouldn't be breathing toxic air in your own home. Homes that aren't sustainable require lots of heating and cooling costs. Their insulation isn't as good as it should be. There are many insulation options in sustainable homes (Environmental Architecture:...).
Currently homes are built with materials that are harmful to the environment and our health. They require trees from ancient forests. They are built from materials that generate waste and pollution.
Sustainable architecture is the alternative option. These homes are better for the environment and healthier to live in. They will turn out to be a money saver too. There are many incentives for green buildings. The daylight in these homes is often of much better quality and offsets winter blues (Environmental Architecture:...).
SmartRisk, a risk management solutions provider for the real estate industry, estimates poor business design costs between $29 billion and $168 billion in lost productivity every year. Luckily, many companies now place a premium on sustainable and innovative design for their workplaces as a way to bolster employee satisfaction and efficiency, lower turnover and absenteeism, and represent an extension of their corporate brand.
Green buildings also have improved indoor air quality, which in turn helps reduce asthma, flu, sick building syndrome, headaches, and respiratory problems that can lead to missed time from work or school, chronic illness, and potential lawsuits (McEntee).
Benefits for Green School and Students
Green schools promote energy savings, effect positive environmental change, improve health and educational achievement, and provide hands-on learning experiences to students and faculty (Green Schools for Healthy Children).
Green schools help diminish the nation's fossil fuel usage, protect the environment, provide natural light to occupants, improve indoor air quality, and create a superior work/learning environment.
These schools will assist in reducing buildings outsized carbon footprint, as the largest source of emissions and energy consumption in the U.S., contributing 42% of all carbon emissions, according to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
Green schools offer financial benefits to school districts and states ranging from four to twenty times the initial cost through energy and water savings (Green Schools for Healthy Children).
Green schools are built and designed with strategies and technologies that aim to improve the quality of indoor air, which could lead to improved student health, test scores and faculty retention . Green schools have better lighting, temperature control, improved ventilation and better indoor air quality. Greening all school construction is estimated to create more than 2,000 new jobs each year from increased use of energy efficiency technologies (Benefits of Green Schools).
There are additional environmental benefits to green schools too. LEED-certified green buildings are designed to use energy and water in a significantly, measurably more efficient way than conventionally designed buildings. LEED buildings also reduce their waste streams during construction, are built to minimize their impact on the land on which they sit and the ecosystems around them, and are built with sustainably produced, recycled and recyclable materials and products .
How is a Green School Economically Benefitted -- a Comparison
Building green offers dramatic reductions in operations and maintenance costs. Green schools can save $100,000 per year -- enough to hire two new teachers, buy 150 new computers, or purchase 5,000 new textbooks. It costs less than 2% more to build a green school than to build a conventional school -- and the financial benefits are 20 times as large. If all new school construction and school renovations went green starting today, energy savings alone would total $20 billion over the next 10 years. When you factor in water savings, the economic savings are enormous (Benefits of Green Schools).
The direct and indirect financial savings to the school and the community are about $70 per square foot, 20 times as high as the cost of going green. Lower energy and water costs, improved teacher retention, and lower health costs directly save green schools about $12 per square foot, four times the additional cost of going green (Kats, Green School Design).
On average, green schools use 33% less energy than conventionally designed schools.
Typical energy performance enhancements include more efficient lighting, greater use of day lighting and sensors, and more efficient heating and cooling systems. The total direct and indirect energy cost saving for a new green school compared with a conventional school is about $9 per square foot. The savings for a green upgrade of an existing school would be about $7 a square foot (Kats, Green School Design).
Thirty green schools were evaluated and achieved an average water use reduction of 32% vs. traditional school buildings. This reduction has direct savings for the school as well as substantial societal benefits from lower pollution and reduced infrastructure costs to deliver water and to transport and treat wastewater. The city valued this improvement at $400,000.
The American Lung Association has found that American school children miss more than 14 million school days a year because of asthma exacerbated by poor indoor air quality. It costs nearly three times more to provide health care for a child with asthma than a child without asthma. In 2006 dollars this amount equals $1,650 per child -- costs borne not by the schools but by the students and their families. A recent Carnegie Mellon review of five separate studies found an average reduction of 38.5% in asthma in buildings with improved air quality (Kats, Green School Design).
Such benefits of greening schools as reduced teacher sick days, lower operations and maintenance costs, improved electricity quality and reliability, reduced insurance and risk-related costs, and improved educational quality are not quantified in this study. These additional benefits, if calculated, would greatly increase the recognized financial benefits of greening schools and further strengthen the case that building conventional and relatively inefficient and unhealthy school buildings today is financially imprudent (Kats, Green School Design).
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