The Big Bucks Behind Green Building

Green-building advocates have long touted the financial benefits of building green, but often data has focused mainly on the benefits of green infrastructure on neighborhoods, with little information available on the benefits to private property and commercial property owners and their tenants. That is, until now.

A new report released this month by the National Resources Defense Council titled “The Green Edge: How Commercial Property Investment in Green Infrastructure Creates Value” offers a detailed look at the specific financial benefits to be gleaned by private property owners based on a variety of green features; it also provides case studies for how much money a midsized office building, midrise apartment building, and a retail center could expect to save over a 40-year period.

The report lists out the benefits of various green amenities, including:

  • Green rooftops, which according to one study allow apartment buildings to command a 16% rental premium; green roofs can also save hundreds of thousands of dollars in roof repairs and replacement costs compared to conventional roofs. The report’s authors point to the Target Center Arena in Minneapolis, which used a green roof to cut its annual energy costs by $300,000.
  • Landscaping with rain gardens and bioswales; according to the researchers’ findings, office buildings offering well-designed landscaping average rental rates 7% higher than their lesser-landscaped peers.
  • Tree cover; not only can trees take energy costs down by providing natural shading in summer and blocking wind in winter, but also retail customers have shown they will pay 8% to 12% more for products purchased in shopping centers that have mature tree canopies.

In the study’s simulation of what a midrise apartment building’s owner might hope to save, it estimates a total of $1,740,000 saved over 40 years, thanks to a combination of energy savings, avoided costs, tax credits, increased rental income, increased property value, and stormwater fee reduction.
The medium-size office building’s owner was estimated to be $1,863,000 richer at the end of 40 years thanks to green features; and the retail center was estimated to save its owner $1,238,200 as well as accrue $22,963,800 in increased retail sales.

And the benefits of green building extend far past the environmental and financial, the report states, to include increased mental health and worker productivity and even reduced crime. To see the full report, click here.

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