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April 19, 2014  |  Login
The Cons of Green Building
By Eric Corey Freed

Green building is not without its disadvantages. In the following sections, I fill you in.

Some Building Professionals are Resistant to Going Green

The construction industry represents 20% of the U.S. economy, comprising $1.27 trillion of the gross domestic product (GDP). With such large amounts of money and influence, the construction industry is inherently risk adverse. The industry has been building in relatively the same fashion for the last hundred years.

This fear of the unknown is perhaps the biggest hurdle to implementing green building ideas. As the ideas become more commonplace, these fears will subside. Until then, you’ll undoubtedly meet people — including architects, contractors, and developers — scared by the idea of trying a different brand of paint, even though it’s healthier.

Green Buildings Can Introduce New Problems

Some of the advantages I mention earlier in this chapter also introduce new issues to the building. Thinking through these issues at the beginning will help mitigate them. Consider:
  • Adding natural daylight brings in more light and more glare. You’ll need to control the light with shades or overhangs.
  • Adding a green roof adds weight, and you may need to beef up the strength of your roof to support this weight.
  • Certain green finishes may need to be special-ordered and may have longer delivery times. Plan ahead for these potential delays.
  • Orienting your home to the sun may mean turning the house in a different direction from that of the neighboring homes. Your neighbors may complain.
  • Water-saving features, such as dual-flush toilets, require guests to pay attention to how they flush the toilet.
  • Using natural ventilation to cool your home will not be as precise as air-conditioning. It may take some time before you acclimate to not having the temperature set to the exact temperature you like.

Debunking a Common Misconception

The chief complaint most people have with green building is cost. Despite the numerous studies and data showing otherwise, most people still assume a green building costs more.

This is not true — but it’s a common misconception promoted by ignorant architects and contractors who are afraid of building in a different way. Good architects and contractors know how to save their clients money. The client sets the budget, and a project should come in at or below that budget. With a clear direction of budget, there is no reason you can’t build a green building for the same price as, or less than, a traditional building.

When you compare similar materials, the costs end up being the same. more



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