Green building incorporates design, construction and operational practices that significantly reduce or eliminate the negative impact of development on the environment and people. Green buildings are energy efficient, resource efficient and environmentally responsible.
The green building movement addresses what are becoming the major issues of our time: excess energy consumption and the related CO2 emissions from burning carbon fuels; the pollution of air, water and land; the depletion of natural resources; and the disposal of waste.
Green buildings have lower operating costs, are more efficient, future-proof, provide a higher rate of return and have been shown to promote wellness, healing and productivity.
Lower operating costs
Research reveals that Green Star SA buildings enjoy energy savings of between 25% and 50% compared to buildings designed to SANS 204 standards. The payback periods of energy and water saving practices are becoming much shorter as a result of increasing utility costs and the wider availability of more affordable green building technology.
Higher returns on assets
Extensive studies in the United States and Australia have shown rental rates in green buildings to be approximately 6% and 5% higher, respectively.
Increased property values
Decreased operating costs, lease premiums and more competitive, less risky, future-proofed buildings contribute to the value of green buildings. This has been empirically proven in the United States and Australia with 11% and 12% valuation premiums, respectively.
Green building creates a differentiated product in the market, which is viewed as technologically advanced and environmentally and socially responsible. These attributes are positively linked to the company brand and image of the owner and/or the tenant.
Reduced liability and risk
Green buildings are future-proofed against increases in utility costs, potential energy and water supply problems, tightening legislation, carbon taxes and the impact of mandatory energy efficiency disclosure, as well as costly retrofits or even obsolescence.
Retaining government and other major tenants
The Department of Public Works’ planned ‘Green Building Framework’ is likely to include certain green building requirements for government accommodation. This will increasingly apply to large multi-national tenants too.
Investment in green building is an integral part of the worldwide trend to more responsible, sustainable and ethical investing.
Improved internal environment quality (IEQ) from increased ventilation, temperature and lighting control, the use of natural light and the absence of toxic materials result in the improved health, comfort and wellbeing of building occupants. This has been shown to increase productivity – always a significant factor in the profitability of a business. Studies show improvements in productivity of up to 20% which easily covers any premium paid for higher quality green space.
Attracting and retaining talent
Skilled staff members are hard to attract and retain. However, educated people, particularly younger graduates, are increasingly aware of sustainability and wellness issues and consequently, may be more attracted to working in a green environment.
With increased comfort and occupant satisfaction and more flexible spaces, green building can minimise the costs and impact of churn. With lease terms in South Africa typically ranging between 3 and 5 years, churn represents a significant cost to businesses.
Combat climate change
Green building practices can have a significant impact on combating climate change and help to create truly sustainable communities.
Green building measures include:
• Careful building design to reduce heat loads, maximising natural light and promoting the circulation of fresh air.
• Energy-efficient air conditioning and lighting.
• Using environmentally friendly, non-toxic materials.
• Reducing waste and using recycled materials.
• Water-efficient plumbing fittings and water harvesting.
• Using renewable energy sources.
• Sensitivity to the impact of the development on the environment.
A wealth of local and international research makes the unarguable case for green building: not only do they contribute to environmental sustainability, health and productivity, green buildings are cost-efficient to operate.