Green Buildings Save Money -- and the Planet

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), June 10, 2007 | Go to article overview

Green Buildings Save Money -- and the Planet

Byline: Larry Banks and Tobias Barwood For The Register-Guard

On April 12, more than 120 architects, engineers and developers from around the state met in Salem to show support for Senate Bill 576. That bill would require state-funded construction projects to meet a high level of energy-efficient and sustainable design.

During our discussions with legislators and citizens, it became clear that while we as architects are well-versed in the concepts of `green' or `high-performance' building, not everyone shares the same level of understanding. Yet we are all affected every day by the buildings we inhabit.

You may have heard the numbers: building construction and operation account for half of the United States' energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. That is almost as much as industry and transportation combined. Seventy-six percent of all electricity generated by power plants goes to operating buildings. Clearly, we need to re-think how buildings are designed and constructed.

As citizens, employees, tenants, business owners, taxpayers, developers and customers, we should expect and provide greener buildings. They are cost-effective, good for working and living, and good for the planet.

The U.S. Council of Mayors, 21 states, and 70 cities from Houston to Eugene have all adopted policies requiring sustainable features in their buildings.

Add to that private sector firms such as Ford, GAP and Wal-Mart that have all seen the value in building greener buildings.

The American Institute of Architects has adopted The 2030 Challenge: Beginning immediately, the institute resolves to design new buildings that consume 50 percent less fossil-fuel generated energy, and to increase that savings until reaching carbon-neutrality by 2030. That's quite a challenge. The design community is taking it seriously, but we can't do it alone.

High-performance buildings are cost effective over the long run. They are built of durable, low-maintenance materials that can adapt to changes in tenancy or workflow over the years. They commonly use 20 percent to 40 percent less energy than a standard building. They require less water, and minimize or even eliminate runoff by storing rainwater for nonpotable uses.

It is simple to provide plentiful daylight instead of artificial light. During much of the year we can provide natural ventilation and let the fans rest.

Properly designed buildings can be cooled at night by the prevailing breezes. Energy use is lowered, and occupants retain sensory contact with the outside.

High-performance buildings are humane environments. With their plentiful daylight and views to outside, they provide beautiful places to work or shop, maximizing employee recruitment, retention and satisfaction. They use materials that don't emit harmful fumes. Reducing sick time and staff turnover while increasing productivity in a bright, stimulating environment can result in significant savings.

High-performance buildings are good for the planet. No matter your view of global warming, we need to extend the supply of our natural resources so that future generations can have some, too. Green building attempts to lessen the impacts of construction on the environment by minimizing damaging resource extraction, reducing energy and water use, improving air and water quality, and promoting efficient material manufacturing, use and recyclability.

Just as the degree to which a new building may incorporate green measures varies, the cost associated with those measures varies also.

While some baseline green measures do not necessarily increase the cost of a building, data from numerous completed buildings over the last 10 years shows that the premium for greener buildings can be nominal - in the range of 2 percent to 4 percent.

Higher levels of energy-efficiency will come at a greater cost, but even a modest 2 percent to 4 percent increase in first costs pays back rapidly when looking at the total life-cycle costs of a 50-year building. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

Green Buildings Save Money -- and the Planet


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.