May 15, 2014 Meissner

The Business Case for Green Buildings

A report written by The World Green Building Council gives a comprehensive review of the costs and benefits of building green for commercial real estate developers, investors and occupants. The facts may surprise you.

The report’s key findings show that, “green” design and construction costs are not much higher than conventional “non-green” construction. Design and Construction Costs Research discloses that when you incorporate solid cost strategies, good program management and well-thought out environmental strategies into the development process right from the start, costs stay at a more reasonable level. Building conventionally may still cost a bit more, but the gap in costs between the two building styles is much narrower than many developers realize.

Tim Meissner, Principal at Meissner Jacquét Commercial Real Estate Services, notes that “performing a sustainable building analysis can aid a property owner by providing them with recommendations regarding energy management, and sustainability practices that can be incorporated into a capital plan.”

Buildings with increased sustainability are proving to be valuable assets. Buildings’ investors and occupants are both more savvy and engaged in the environmental and social impacts of green construction. They want to invest, live and work in buildings that incorporate green technologies, green energy design, healthy air quality systems and environmentally sound waste management techniques. The more sustainable the building, the more marketable it becomes and the more quickly tenants flock to it and stay. Tenants also agree to higher rents and higher sales prices when they know the building has sustainability credentials. In fact, as green becomes more mainstream, “brown” building rental discounts are making an appearance.

Green buildings save money through reduced water and energy usage in the long and short term. Operating costs and maintenance costs not only show a marked decrease, but the savings incurred over time can offset any premiums paid for design and construction.  But the whole process only works at a maximum level if it is managed effectively, monitored and measured regularly, and has the buy-in of both commercial real estate owners and occupants.

People like working in a green building and productivity studies show it. Employees react positively to healthier air quality, correct lighting, better waste and recycling management, and proper ergonomic furnishings. However, many companies are not convinced that the cost of making the office green is worth the expenditure.  Jerry Jacquet, Principal at Meissner Jacquét, notes that “energy performance benchmarking can be a useful tool for owners to realize the potential for cost-savings, not only for the property owner but for the tenants as well.”

The risks of investing, owning or occupying a building that is not sustainable have become higher and more costly. Regulatory commissions across the globe are developing stricter building codes, writing laws directed at bans for precarious buildings, and calling for the adherence to city or statewide energy efficiency standards. These risk factors affect rental income and the buildings’  value. Green buildings are built to withstand more weather onslaughts, address regulatory issues, and factor tenant preferences into the initial design.

If we go green where we work, live, and shop, we will not only live better, but we will also keep a healthy bottom line in the long term. The World Green Building Council report asserts that, “By greening our built environment at the neighborhood and city scale, we can deliver on large-scale economic priorities such as climate change mitigation, energy security, resource conservation and job creation, long-term resilience and quality of life.”


  • The Business Case for Green Building – by the World Green Building Council
  • An Introduction to the Cost Benefits of Green Buildings – from Curbed University
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