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Green building costs overestimated

Building professionals are overestimating the green construction costs and underestimating the effect of buildings’ energy on climate change, according to a new report.
Green building costs overestimated
Respondents to a global survey believed there was an overestimated cost premium of 17% to construct sustainable buildings, compared to the true cost.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) research study found that the 1,423 respondents believed greenhouse emissions from buildings contributed 19% of the world's total emissions but the real figure is actually 40%.

The 1,423 individuals telephoned between November 2006 and February 2007 included specifiers and developers (including architects,
engineers, builders and contractors) agents and corporate building landlords.

The findings of the new report titled 'Energy Efficiency in Buildings: Business Realities and Opportunities' summarizes the first phase of a WBCSD project led by Lafarge. The report presents the challenges of reducing energy use in buildings.

The knowledge, technology and skills are already available but are not being widely used to achieve dramatically lower energy use in buildings.
Progress is hampered by barriers in the form of industry structure and practices, professionals' lack of know-how and support

When asked about their responsibility in driving change, very few decision-makers saw their task as leading the move to sustainable building

About 20% of architects, engineers and developers have been involved in green building projects.
The study found fewer than one in seven industry respondents has participated directly in a green building project. Involvement ranges from a high of 45% in Germany to 5% in India.

The report said the lifetime of buildings has been decreasing and this trend needs to be reversed to spread the embodied energy over a longer period.

The report's chart shows that the earlier in the process that integrated building design occurs, the greater the impact on building performance and the lower the impact on costs.

The WBCSD's Energy Efficiency in Buildings Project is a three year initiative to assess the environmental impacts of buildings and develop means to achieve zero net energy use for residential and commercial buildings.

The full report and background information are available at
21 August 2007


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