CBRE Senior Sustainability Consultant
For many years the property development industry has operated under the assumption that green buildings cost more to build and the greener the building the more expensive. This belief is now being challenged by new research from the BRE in conjunction with cost consultants Sweett Group. Findings released in August 2014 show that the additional cost of achieving a BREEAM Excellent rating for office buildings in a typical urban setting could be less than 1%.
The Delivering Sustainable Buildings study assessed three building types - air conditioned office, secondary school and a community healthcare centre – against English Part L 2010 building regulations and the 2011 BREEAM new construction guidance with consideration to location. The financial analysis reviewed capital and lifecycle costs to give a long term picture of the costs and benefits of the typical sustainability measures adopted.
Cost uplifts to achieve BREEAM Excellent ratings (over a Pass rating) were found to be 0.87-1.71% for office buildings and 1.22-1.68% for secondary schools. The costs of constructing community healthcare centres were impacted more significantly by up to 6%. The study also concluded that the implementation of specific sustainable building features at the right stage in the design process allowed achievement of high ratings with little or no additional cost. This supports the often cited argument for an integrated design process where all design and development disciplines consider sustainability aspects from the outset of the project, thus avoiding additional consultant fees and costly changes to building fabric and services.
The research also points to the convergence of BREEAM ratings and Building Regulations that are progressively imposing more onerous resource efficiency requirements on the construction sector. As relative costs decrease and occupier demand increases, with recognition of the benefits to operating costs, wellbeing and productivity, there is a strong case for “green” buildings to become the new normal.