Natural Resources Defense Council BUILDING GREEN FROM PRINCIPLE TO PRACTICE
photo of building
Home Build Your Business Case Set Your Budget and Goals Adopt a Whole-Building Approach Apply Sustainable Building Strategies Capitalize on Your Achievement
photo of building
Chicago Center for Green Technology, Chicago, IL. Architect: Farr Associates.

SET YOUR BUDGET AND GOALS

The scope of your building project has a big impact on both your budget and your opportunities for building green. If you're constructing a commercial office building from the ground up, for example, redeveloping an urban site that is close to stores and public transportation and installing a roof garden will help you attract tenants and cut operating costs.

Or, if you're seeking to trim utility bills for your existing space, installing lower-wattage lighting, occupancy sensors and other energy-efficient technologies will deliver the biggest long-term savings.

Whatever your project type, you can build green at little or no additional cost if you plan ahead and focus on integrating your design. For an average of just 2 percent more up front, dozens of owners have achieved certification for their project according to the LEED green building rating system. Certification can help boost media interest in your business and offer proof to potential tenants and buyers that you've achieved your sustainability goals. In this section, learn how to integrate specific green building strategies into your budget.

CASE STUDY
Pennsylvania DEP California Office Building (California, PA)
The builders of this 21,190-square-foot Department of Environmental Protection office achieved LEED Gold certification at a lower cost per square foot than the market average for comparable buildings in the same location.
Full Case Study (pdf) »

TIPS
Successful Budgeting
  • The earlier you decide to build green, the more opportunities you'll have to incorporate cost-efficient green solutions into your design and the easier it will be to achieve your environmental goals on budget.


  • Set your sustainability goals according to your project's overall scope and budget. Seek LEED certification or use LEED guidelines as a brainstorming tool, and use green strategies to design costs out of your project.


  • Aim for a realistic certification target rather than risk falling short of your goal. Achieving any level of LEED certification is a big accomplishment in and of itself -- and as your project moves forward, you may find it's easier than you thought to accumulate LEED credits and boost your certification level.
TOP THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
Choosing Your Site
Maximizing Water Efficiency
Saving Energy
Making Smart Use of Materials and Resources
Safeguarding Indoor Environmental Quality
divider line
RESOURCE CENTER
Fact Sheet: First Costs »
Links: Life Cycle Analysis Tools »

divider line
Roughly 80 percent of your building's overall costs are established before you even hire an architect.