An Overview of the Benefits and Risk Factors of Going Green in Existing Buildings - PDF

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Vol.1, No.1 April 2010 An Overview of the Benefits and Risk Factors of Going Green in Existing Buildings Alev Durmus-Pedini 1 and Baabak Ashuri 2 ABSTRACT The negative environmental effects caused by buildings
Vol.1, No.1 April 2010 An Overview of the Benefits and Risk Factors of Going Green in Existing Buildings Alev Durmus-Pedini 1 and Baabak Ashuri 2 ABSTRACT The negative environmental effects caused by buildings - through energy consumption, carbon emission, raw material use and waste - are well known. A growing world population combined with the rapid growth in the economies of countries such as China and India will make so many more new buildings necessary in the near future that their collective negative effects could become catastrophic for the environment. In the United States non-residential green construction starts were at 10% of totals using 2008 numbers. This is not enough growth in green building to reach environmental targets, despite the fact that green building was introduced to the industry more than a decade ago. The world also faces the enormous issue of existing non-green buildings which outnumber new green construction starts by many times. The benefits of creating new green construction will fall far short of goals and could be negated entirely by the continued excess of existing buildings if they are not retrofitted using green building methods and practices. Despite growing environmental concerns on the one hand, and financial incentives and support offered by government and other institution to developers, investors and private owners on the other, these same individuals and corporations are hesitant to embrace the idea of green building. This paper tries to emphasis one more time that green building benefits are real, and also shows the decision maker that even though there are risks factors involved of going green, these can be managed. The purpose of this paper is to develop a framework for benefits and risks of retrofitting existing buildings to green standards. Using the comprehensive literature review methodology, this paper tries to contribute to the new organization and framework of risk & benefits factors with number of risk strategy suggestions and tries to consolidate the information for subsequent research help. INTRODUCTION Green building is not a matter of choice or luxury but a necessity for the environmentally conscious industry professionals, owners, developers, government officials and the rest of the stakeholders. Growing awareness of environmental aspects and demand on green building worldwide shows that, the status quo as it exists in the construction industry simply cannot go on. The industry must, and is, changing. In the United States, buildings are responsible for 72% of electricity consumption, 39% of energy use, 35% of carbon dioxide emissions, 40% of raw material usage, 30% waste output and 14% potable water consumption. (USGBC, 2009) It is estimated that 73% of these buildings will stand for decades to satisfy demand with their negative environmental impact. 1 Ph.D. Student, School of Building Construction, Georgia Institute of Technology, 280 Ferst Drive, 1st Floor, Atlanta, GA Phone: (404) Fax: (404) Assistant Professor, Director of the Economics of the Sustainable Built Environment (ESBE) Lab, School of Building Construction, Georgia Institute of Technology, 280 Ferst Drive, 1st Floor, Atlanta, GA , Phone: (404) Fax: (404) Over the years green building principals became standards for many corporations, institutions, and government bodies as an indication of their ethical responsibility but the majority is still behind the curve. Even though, any projects that involve multiple stakeholders typically require the evaluation and consideration of a wide variety of factors and not just the basic cost-based dimension, this was the path that many owners took when it came to green building decision. This is the area that facility managers can have the important role of offering objective opinion, and help their corporation commit to the environment and grasp the future value. The added value of input from facility managers, along with the architects, engineers and green consultants, should be considered before starting a project. Facility managers are in a key position to identify candidate buildings, (either retrofit or new construction), or possible interventions in existing buildings, helping the decision maker about which and how much retrofit should be undertaken, which standard to be followed, leveraging their knowledge in regards to current and post-implementation building performance and convince the decision maker about the tangible benefits as well as the intangible benefits on going green. Facility managers are well aware of the possible effects of a building s work environments on employees and their productivity as well as the life cycle effect on building operation and maintenance process. They are the only professionals in a position to work this angle in the green building process and make this process easier and more profitable for the corporation. Most of the time facility managers are familiar with the company and the building itself as well as the work and employee structure. Facility manager s input in regards to the whole life cycle of operation and maintenance is of enormous benefit. This benefit could be calculated to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars throughout the life cycle of the building (Castro-Lacouture 2008) or not realized if facility managers are left out during this process. Despite the many aspects of going green, most research focuses on cost, performance aspects, and the benefits of green buildings. There is seemingly a gap in knowledge about the risks related to going green. As long as these risks are not eliminated or managed, they will continue to become obstacles to green building movement. The purpose of this paper is to fill a knowledge gap in identifying and managing the risks, develop a framework for benefits and risks of retrofitting existing buildings to green standards emphasizing green benefits one more time in detail, and show the decision maker that even though there are risks involved, these can be managed. This paper tries to contribute to the new organization and framework of risk/benefits factors with number of risk strategy suggestions and to help promoting green retrofits in existing buildings. Background Over the last decade, green buildings have come to be known as buildings that are designed and constructed with an emphasis given to environmental, social and economic priorities. Most importantly, building green emphasizes long-term as well as short-term performance. (Horman et. al. 2008) But is this what owners, investors and developers are thinking about green building? The answer is not all of them. As architects, engineers and facility managers, green building and sustainability have become part of our professional lives. On the other hand, stakeholders often do not reach a consensus about potential benefits; environmental and social priorities do not have the same weight as financial priorities and they have misconception about the green premium being much higher than it really is. (Turner, 2008) The numbers below are enough to demonstrate that there is indeed a huge negative impact on the environment due to existing buildings. In the United States, buildings are responsible for: 72% of Electricity Consumption 39% of Energy Use 35% of Carbon Dioxide Emissions 2 40% of Raw Material Usage 30% Waste Output 14% Potable Water Consumption (USGBC, 2009) Even though environmental consciousness started to spread in the US decades ago (The Air Pollution Control Act in 1955, The Federal Clean Air Act in 1970, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1971) it took very slow pace for this consciousness to spread to construction industry. (American Institute of Architects (AIA) formed Committee on the Environment (COTE) in 1990) Green building movement took another turn when the US Green Building Council (USGBC) was formed in 1993, and later Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards introduced thorough USGBS in Since then, green building practices have been gaining acceptance in the US with the highest growth in the USGBC membership of 60% was reached between the years of (Wedding, Brown, 2007) Research Motivation As more and more research has been done over the years, the results confirm the positive impact from building with sustainability and green building standards in mind. But despite of all these facts, how much progress are we actually making in regards to building green? Unfortunately, even with the growing concerns over environmental, social and financial aspects, green building is not taking its place at the forefront as hoped for by the professionals within the design and construction industry. The green market share increased from 2% of (residential and non-residential) construction starts in 2005 (Nelson, 2007) to 10% in 2008, (USGBC 2009) But the ratio of existing buildings to green buildings is overwhelming. It is evident that in order to lower the environmental effects and bring energy usage, water consumption and CO 2 emissions 7% below 1990 levels- as stated in the United States Mayors climate protection agreement (www., 2009) - the construction industry will need to take drastic actions. According to EPA, between the years of 2000 and 2030, an estimated 27% of existing buildings will be replaced and 50% of the total building stock will be constructed. (, 2009) Therefore, 73% of existing buildings will continue to see use, many for several decades. The negative impact of existing non-green buildings is two-fold. First, if they are replaced, the demolition waste would fill and pollute landfills. (According to a research prepared for EPA-CA, 74% of the construction and demolition waste could be recycled. ( On the other hand, if these building are allowed to stand without retrofitting, their negative environmental effects would continue at percentages mentioned above. In this situation, retrofitting existing buildings using any viable standard would bring the benefit of green building to existing structures and help mitigate the negative environmental impact caused by them. This solution might seem a good one by industry professionals; however it is important to convince the decision maker in order to get approval to retrofit an existing building. Research Objectives When its benefits are measured against the status quo, green building should be the logical choice as one of the most effective solutions to many environmental concerns. The growing environmental issues will continue to create global problems which can only be eliminated with local effort. While the efforts are continuing to spread green building, future targets are already set. The Architecture 2030 challenge calls for new buildings today to have a 50% reduced carbon footprint, compared to existing buildings with steady increases in efficiency and renewable energy until reaching carbon neutral new buildings by (Wedding, 2008) 3 However, in spite of all the support and sympathy towards green building, the emissions and waste caused by buildings is continually on the rise. When the overall increase in greenhouse gas emissions from 2006 to 2007 is broken down, it shows a disproportionate rise in building generated emissions, a full 5 times the total average increase of 1%. (, 2009) The growing support for green building practices and the current growth of new green building construction starts are not enough to reverse this cycle. Since the ratio of existing buildings to new green construction is overwhelming, reusing existing buildings with green retrofits could be the logical solution to reduce the environmental effects sooner. Until recently green building movement was focused primarily on new green construction which allowed researchers to demonstrate to stakeholders of the positive outcomes of green building. Ideally these outcomes will help to influence the decisions around retrofitting existing buildings. The purpose of this paper is twofold; first to illuminate the benefits of employing green building standards in existing buildings while evaluating the possible risk areas, second to recommend risk strategies in order to eliminate or manage these risks in order to promote green retrofits in existing buildings. OVERVIEW OF GREEN BUILDING RATING SYSTEMS After the launch of Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) in the UK in 1990.US Green Building Council s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) followed BREEAM in Many other green building standards started around the world such as Green Star by Green Building Council Australia (GBCA), Green Globes by Green Building Initiative (Canada-US), and Comprehensive Assessment System for Building Environment Efficiency (CASBEE-Japan). Another rating system in the US is Energy Star, established by the U.S. EPA in 1992 started with energy-efficient product focus. Energy Star transformed its energy rating to the buildings and over 83,000 buildings in the US have been rated by Energy Star in ( Energy Star focuses solely on energy efficiency and related greenhouse gas emission and does not take the other sustainability issues under consideration. Apart from many localized standards in the world, UK based BREEAM and US based LEED are leading the green building standards in the world. The localization seems necessary in order to implement these standards with resource, legislative, energy consumption, cultural structure, climate and geological differences but the concerns and motivation related to the green buildings are similar. Some of the most important standards are briefly addressed below. BREEAM BREEAM is the earliest building rating system for environmental performance assessment and it is applicable to different situations such as: industrial, multi-residential, office and retail. Design stage and post construction stage could undergo BREEAM standards with several criteria areas such as; management, health and wellbeing, energy, transport, water, material, land use and pollution. The process requires the building to obtain performance credit for an overall score on a scale of 1-5 (pass, good, very good, excellent and outstanding.) Around the world, BREEAM certified and registered building numbers are over 100,000 and 500,000, respectively. (www. Different than LEED, BREEAM follows the UK building code standards and it is embedded into the local legislation. Additionally, BREEAM mandates to hire an assessor during the process, while this is optional in LEED. LEED LEED is a voluntary green building rating system, however, in certain US states, LEED certification is mandatory. Currently 35,000 projects are participating in the LEED system, comprising over 4.5 billion square 4 feet of construction space in all 50 United States and 91 countries, with over 100,000 Accredited Professionals (LEED-AP) providing management. (USGBC-2009a) LEED certification has four levels (Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum) depend on the credits obtained. Applicants must earn credits across six categories (sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, innovation and operations). The new version of LEED (LEED v3), launched in April 2009, emphasized more on CO 2 emissions and energy performance by making these criterias mandatory. New version of LEED requires certified buildings to collect building performance data for five years. If a building does not perform within the limits of its designated level, the building may lose LEED certification. LEED has application categories of new construction (LEED-NC), existing buildings operation & maintenance (LEED-EB), core and shell (LEED-CS) commercial interiors (LEED-CI) homes, schools, healthcare and retail. THE GREEN GLOBES Originated in Canada by the green building initiative, The Green Globes rating system was brought to the US in 2004 in order to promote green building standards for New Construction and Continual Improvement of Existing Buildings. (Green globes-nc, and Green Globes CEIB, respectively.) Green Globes certification could be obtained starting 350 of 1000 total points with rating of one to four globes. ( Green Globes Environmental Assessment Areas are project management (policies and practices), site, energy, water, resource, building materials and solid wastes, emission and other impacts, indoor environment, emphasizing energy and indoor environment and Some of the US legislative bodies are mandating the buildings to obtain either LEED or Green Globes standards. SUMMARY OF BENEFITS If a benefit is described as something that aids or promotes well-being (, green building is all about promoting well being, usually as it relates to environment, health and community. There are also direct economical benefits through the reduction of energy and water use. Green building also produces many less obvious benefits, such as market and industry benefits. The biggest obstacle in front of green buildings is, misconception overwhelming A recent GSA study of green buildings indicated that, they had 33% less carbon emissions, 27% higher occupant satisfaction, used up to 45% less energy, experienced 13% lower aggregate maintenance costs and used up to 54% less water when compared to national averages. (GSA White Paper, 2009) Even though the benefits are categorized as environmental, health and community, financial, market, and industry, most of the categories have secondary financial benefits as well. Other research came to the same conclusion in detail. In a paper published by Leonardo Academy, operational cost savings in buildings that had LEED-EB certification were significant. Specifically, when compared to information gathered from Buildings Owners Managers Association International (BOMA) Experience Exchange Report, LEED-EB compliant buildings had on average a $6.68 per square foot savings over the operating costs of traditional buildings, yet had only an average of $2.43 per square foot cost disadvantage to come into compliance with LEED-EB standards. ( ( When life cycle costs are analyzed, studies have suggested that an initial up-front investment of an extra 2% of construction cost (New green construction) will yield over ten times that investment over the life cycle of the building through energy and other operational cost savings. (Wolff, 2006) With green retrofit, the life cycle benefits are there (among with the other benefits) with only investing the proportional cost of green retrofits, eliminating the rest of the cost related to new construction. 5 There is every expectation that implementation costs will be reduced through the use of technology and standardization which can only make implementation that much less expensive and the savings that much greater. ( It is worth mentioning that some of the benefits we list here, especially the financial gains, are only a means to an ends in that they are truly secondary to the overarching need to address global environmental issues. Traditional metrics are being applied to a very non-traditional process which has its roots in social good. Environmental Benefits o Enhance and protect eco-system and biodiversity, o Improve water and air quality, o Reduce solid waste, o Conserve natural resources. (USGBC,2007) As previously stated, buildings have a substantial energy impact on the environment. Population growth and the resultant demand on the built environment is always on the increase, creating obvious resource consumption issues; however the knock-on effects are less obvious but just as significant. For example, energy consumption grows proportionately to increased building quantity and use. Less obvious is the water used to generate this
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