Is Green Building Costly?

There remains a common misconception that green building is “too expensive”.

Much of the act of building green actually takes place during the design phase, through making different application choices using many of the same building materials as in mainstream construction. The net difference in cost in this regard can be minimal.

Some qualified green products can meet or exceed traditional products in performance. In some cases they can be proximate in price (such as bamboo flooring versus hardwood) or by exceeding in performance (such as granite countertops versus laminates) their amortized value over time balances out to a net benefit for the owner.

In larger-ticket upgrades, such as geothermally-assisted heating systems, consumers need to be empowered to make genuinely informed choices based upon the relative long-term benefits and cost savings. Savings can sometimes offset the initial capital investment by orders of magnitude over time. A geothermal system, once paid off over the lifetime of a 25-year mortgage, will continue to accrue financial savings indefinitely thereafter for the full lifetime of the structure. It will help if financial institutions can come to understand and reflect this variable in the maintenance expense of a structure. For example: a homeowner can reasonably afford a slightly higher payment schedule to mortgage a net-zero construction, if their previous Hydro billing has now dropped by 95%.

Market research indicates the surcharge for green building averages in the range of 5% [Statistics Canada; Census 2006, Community Profiles; based upon 20% sample data; 2007.] Across the industry prices continue to drop as emerging products make the transition to mainstream acceptance and manufacturers are able to take advantage of economies of scale.