As World Green Building Week 2018 approaches (24 - 30 Sep), we thought we’d share some of the most recent research on the economic benefits of green buildings. This post is part of a series which will explain why we should all be aiming to ‘green’ our buildings, and furthermore, why we should be pushing government policy in this direction too.
It’s not just the planet that will benefit from going green, there are social and economic benefits of green buildings as well as the more obvious environmental benefits. In fact, when discussing the benefits of green buildings, they are often broken down into the following three categories: environmental, economic and social. It’s for this reason that some people refer to these buildings as ‘healthy buildings’ as well as green buildings. This post will focus on the economic benefits.
According to the World Green Building Council: “[green buildings] provide some of the most effective means to achieving a range of global goals, such as addressing climate change, creating sustainable and thriving communities, and driving economic growth.
First of all, we should define what we mean by green buildings. Green buildings have been built from a sustainable design, also known as eco design. This means all facets of the design process takes into consideration the impact the building will have, both in construction and use. The World Green Building Council defines green buildings as "a building that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts and can create positive impacts on our climate and natural environment. Green buildings preserve precious natural resources and improve our quality of life."
Lets look at the economic benefits of green buildings.
Most people assume that going green comes with a financial burden, and for many years the ‘eco premium’ was common. However, there are clear and measurable economic benefits of green buildings for both developers and households. One of the primary economic benefits of green buildings is the lower cost of utility bills, as reducing energy means reducing energy costs.
According to the European Commission's 2015 report, global energy efficiency measures could save an estimated €280 to €410 billion in savings on energy spending.
On an individual level, UK households spend an average of £1630 per year on energy and water. Simply installing double glazing, low-flow showers, loft insulation and cavity wall insulation would save a 4-bedroom semi-detached household around £465 per year.
And by making your property passivhaus standard, adding renewable energy sources and rainwater harvesting you could be looking at barely any utility bills at all. We've covered this in more detail in this blog post here.
Additionally, a government report from 2013 states high levels of energy efficiency adds an average of 14% to a house's value.
Taking Koru's office and director Mark's home as an example (as we have the numbers to hand), a green building has the potential to save and even generate money – due to the (soon-to-be-abolished) feed-in-tariff and renewable heat incentive schemes, the house currently brings in income.
The rainwater harvesting system achieves an annual saving of £200 per year. The solar PV, solar thermal and biomass boiler bring in an annual income of £1500, £650 and £1400 respectively.
When the electric bill (£400), wood pellets (£500) and water bill (£150) are subtracted, this leaves a current net annual income of £2500.
And if you're a business owner, this blog post details seven economic benefits of green buildings, including more surprising ones, like employee retention, staff productivity and PR. From a country-wide perspective, the office of national statistics stated green construction firms generated £12.4bn of turnover and employed 96,500 employees in 2016.
As you can see from the above evidence, the economic benefits of green buildings have the potential to be vast. Even small changes can yield big financial results. Go green – your pocket (and the planet) will thank you!
This post is part two in a series.
- Benefits of Green Buildings: part one – environmental
- Benefits of Green Buildings: part two – economic
- Benefits of Green Buildings: part three – social