Sustainable buildings do not cost more, finds report

By guest contributor Ruth Lumley
Sustainable buildings are not necessarily more costly to construct, according to new research.
Sweett Group, the property and infrastructure company, used data from real building projects – an office, a secondary school and a community healthcare centre – to produce detailed capital and operational cost information.
The report, “Delivering sustainable buildings: Savings and payback“, showed the cost of sustainability strategies and the additional costs of achieving different levels of building sustainability.
It also revealed the associated payback to be gained from reduced utility costs.
The study investigated the readily usable no or low cost measures, along with those that must be built into the project early on to minimise their costs.
It also looked at the capital costs of achieving overall levels of building sustainability, using the costs associated with gaining a pass, good, very good and excellent ratings under the BREEAM sustainability rating scheme.
The study found that specifying sustainability measures during the design and procurement stages could bring cost savings without adding significantly, or at all, to upfront costs in operating buildings, focusing on energy and water consumption.
The researchers concluded that achieving the lower BREEAM ratings could incur little or no additional cost.
Targeting the higher BREEAM ratings and more challenging levels of sustainability, incurred some extra cost, although this was typically less than two per cent.
The investigation of life cycle operational costs showed that any additional cost can be paid back within two to five years through utility savings.
Yetunde Abdul of BRE said: “This study adds to a growing body of work on the costs and value of sustainability.
“It provides further strong evidence that a sustainable approach need not add significantly to building costs.
“And, where there are additional capital costs, these can be repaid relatively quickly through the reduced costs of operating the building.”

Adam Mactavish, operations director – management consulting, for Sweett Group, said: “This report provides a practical resource to help developers and their project teams target and then deliver buildings that meet high standards of environmental performance.”
This was first published on Trillion Fund.

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