Many companies claim that their products and services are “the future”. But no one has more of a right to this claim than companies in the green building industry. As we all know, the industrial practices of the 20th century have significantly compromised the environment in more ways than one, necessitating a change in the way that we regard the environment on both a personal and public level. On a personal level, many of us choose to support the environment by participating in recycling and buying non-toxic products. But on a public level, we often choose to stick with old, unsafe building practices because a changing of the guard would require more time and money than we care to invest.
However, we often fail to consider that implementing sustainable design in new and existing buildings will do more than preserve the environment; it will also save us money. Although implementing green designs can cost more up front, the lower operating costs that they bring can easily offset the initial investment, and then some. For example, if implementing an energy efficient water system costs $24,000 more than implementing a traditional system but we end up cutting our water bill by $2,200 a month, then the entire additional investment is returned in one year and after that all of the return is pure profit..
When you consult with a green buildings design company, you can apply a project life cycle cost analysis to determine what design implements justify their start up cost in terms of long-term savings. After determining projected cost savings, actual cost savings are determined during the conceptual design phase of a green building project. Unlike traditional building practices that view a building’s operating systems independently, green building practices strive to integrate operating systems, maximizing energy efficiency and therefore reducing energy costs.
While green design practices are an excellent long-term investment for both companies and the environment, some companies don’t have the budget to incorporate large-scale changes all at once. In such cases, pursuing smaller changes that still yield significant cost savings, such as replacing incandescent exit signs with photoluminescent exit signs, is the best option. Research shows that replacing 100 incandescent exit signs with photoluminescent exit signs will save a company over $3,500 a year in power costs, proving that small green changes can help create a budget for larger changes.
Just as the building practices that compromised the environment were brought into effect gradually, the adoption of building practices that support the environment is also occurring gradually. Although the prospect of global warming and polluted waters can fill us with environmental urgency, committing to green building practices in whatever way we can will create a financial pathway for making our buildings totally green. In the interest of both company budgets and the health of the environment the time to start making this commitment is now.