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Somebody please show us the real data that shows "incremental costs" of only 1% to achieve those kinds of energy savings. This is a common myth. Energy efficeint measures are certainly achievable, and make all kinds of sense, and should be encouraged, but let's be honest with the facts and the real costs. Its hard to have meaningful discussion about green buildigns when advocates continue to push the myth that there is no incremental costs. There is. Ask anyone that has developed a LEED building. Also ask them how much it would cost without the ETO and BETC subsidies.

eric cantona

T makes a reasonable point. the 1% notion is most likely false in most cases when you consider subsidies. but that is no reason to throw out the bathwater with the baby still in it. the savings are real, and when you factor in life-cycle costs they add up. combine that with a nearly universal call to limit energy use and i wonder what on earth our friendly realtors (and their lobbyists) are really trying to achieve.

reading the press release really makes it obvious that they have no interest in sustainability. any designer (even non-architects, like me) in Portland could point out the holes in their argument. so many things, as pointed out in NEEA's response, require little to no expenditure. just a modicum of common sense.

my experience with realtor/developer associations has shown me that they have very, very little interest in anything 'new', or challenging. status quo, all the way. sustainability adds another layer of complexity to their projects, and they want nothing at all to do with it. until it makes them money, of course. then it's fucking awesome.


Please don't confuse this lobby which represents Commercial Real Estate Developers with your freindly local Realtor(sorry about the capital "R" Brian). We do not share the same priorities as developers. We represent our clients, people like you.


The above assertion by Jon that "Realtors" represent clients (as opposed to themselves) is laughable, at best. Read any of the studies or press releases done by the National Association of Realtors in the last 2 years to get an idea of where their interests lie.

Almost as laughable is the idea that a LEED Platinum building and the associated energy savings can be achieved with no incremental cost increase. The scope of the NAIOP study (which I only skimmed) was pretty narrow (a 4 story, 95,000 SF, office building, 10 year payback period.) This isn't a debate about whether building energy efficient buildings is good or bad, but an analysis of the cost-effectiveness of their construction, given these very specific criteria.

Nobody disagrees with the idea that building the most energy efficient buildings possible is the right thing to do, but if they are not financially feasible, they will not get built (without large government subsidies) because nobody can afford to finance them.

John Jennings

There are now a number of studies on larger samples of buildings that compare cost of LEED or green buildings to their lesser cousins. One study by Davis-Langdon, one of the largest cost-estimating firms in the US looked at 221 buildings and found “...there is no significant difference in average cost for green buildings as compared to non-green buildings.” One can always find exceptions to the rule, some with extremely high incremental costs because they didn't follow the simple rule of efficiency first and renewables second. Or they were experimenting with new innovative technologies that haven't come far along the adoption curve yet. Nonetheless, there still is a huge need for more people to come forth with cost data on high performance buildings. And remember it is important to compare premium green buildings to premium non-green buildings, not low-ball construction. Let's not compare a hybrid Prius to a basic Kia.


John -

I appreciate you pointing out the Davis-Langdon study - I located it on the internet and found it very interesting. And again, I am not disputing that building sustainable buildings is the right thing to do or that NAIOP may have blinders on with regard to the larger picture. However, I do not believe the Davis-Langdon study (or any study done the same way) provides an accurate picture of the cost of constructing "sustainable" buildings vs. non-sustainable buildings (or in the case of the study, LEED-seeking vs. non-LEED-seeking).

I don't think anyone could tell you with a straight face that LEED does not add cost to a building. The additional documentation and commissioning requirements of LEED alone present additional costs, without accounting for the actual increase in hard construction costs.

I would also like to point out that like NAIOP, you have cherry-picked the information you want to make your case:

From Page 10 of the Davis-Langdon Study
"There is such a wide variation in cost per square foot between buildings on a regular basis, even without taking sustainable design into account, that this certainly contributed to the lack of statistically significant differences between the LEED-seeking and non-LEED-seeking buildings.

The overall conclusion is that comparing the average cost per square foot for one set of buildings to another does not provide any meaningful data for any individual project to assess what - if any- cost impact there might be for incorporating LEED and sustainable design. The normal variations between buildings are sufficiently large that analysis of averages is not helpful..."

Eric Cantona

please, please ignore LEED in relation to this argument. it has no bearing. the NAIOP referenced study mentions LEED exactly ZERO times, as does their press release. in my view Mr. Jennings makes a mistake by bringing it up at all.

this conversation, in my humble opinion, is about energy efficiency. that is only one portion of LEED certification. LEED as a measure of sustainability has many positive qualities, but the reality is that it's more of a marketing tool, than anything else. which is fine, as far as I'm concerned. it's done wonders to kick-start the sustainable building movement, and move it closer to the mainstream.

my point is this: to "achieve reduction targets of 30-50 percent above the ASHRAE 90.1-2004 standard" does not require tremendous expenditure (factoring in life-cycle costs) or a team of rocket scientists. just good design from forward-thinking professionals.

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