How Much Red Before Going Green?

Federal Building

In the days of “Occupy Wall Street” where social media and the internet showcases the delivery of various political and social viewpoints to the masses at the speed of thought, never before witnessed in our history, we are still slow to push forward some initiatives that would greatly help this country.  This occurred to me while reading a very interesting post from a Sustainability Roundtable member

I am talking, in particular, about Green Building and Sustainable Development in our cities.  This notion of incorporating green building practices in retrofitting and new building developments has been bantered about, and vehemently debated throughout the country for over a decade and yet we are still at the beginning stages of a wholesale build-out.

I can’t help but be confused by all the differing reports from industry experts regarding the true cost of building green.  The extremely conscious city of Portland in the beautiful state of Oregon is no exception to the differing opinions on how much green initiatives to be incorporated into the development plans of the city.

No doubt, on a national level, the awareness is growing and some states and local municipalities have already implemented Energy Performance Regulations requiring various levels of disclosure and reporting.

The big question in my mind is, where is the bottleneck that is preventing this renaissance?  There are many incentives and subsidies that help diffuse the pain of high capital costs, as well as, the recurring operational cost savings from a “greener” building.

In the latest Sustainability Roundtable: Management Best Practices

publication, they outlined three recent trends:

  1. The most respected statistically normalized studies consistently demonstrate that green buildings create value through leasing (5%) and sale price (5-7%) premiums.
  2. When consultants are not overpaid, green buildings and, specifically, green building certification, are in fact far less costly to achieve (0-2% additional cost) than many real estate professionals assume.
  3. There is increasing recognition of the health and productivity benefits of green buildings.

Another key takeaway from the report stated, “leading companies are moving to a more sustainable leased space to lower operating costs, reduce environmental risks, increase productivity, improve recruiting and retention, implement corporate sustainability mandates, and enhance brand and reputation.”

It all sounds great but I am neither a civil engineer nor a city planner, so where is the Beef?  What else needs to be done in order to motivate a faster change?  Your voice is welcome!