Key players in real estate and construction worldwide misjudge the costs and benefits of green buildings, creating a major barrier to more energy efficiency in the building sector, a new study by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) reports.
Respondents to a 1,400-person global survey estimated the additional cost of building green at 17 percent above conventional construction—more than triple the true cost difference of about five percent. At the same time, survey respondents put greenhouse gas emissions by buildings at 19 percent of world total—the actual number is 40 percent.
The study also found that fewer than one in seven industry respondents has participated directly in a green building project. About 20 percent of architects, engineers and developers have been involved in green building projects, compared to just nine percent of owners and tenants.
The findings are disclosed in a new report titled “Energy Efficiency in Buildings: Business Realities and Opportunities,” which summarizes the first phase of WBCSD’s project.
“Existing technologies combined with commonsense design can increase energy efficiency by 35 percent and reduce heating costs by 80 percent for the average building in industrialized markets,” said George David, chairman and chief executive of United Technologies Corp., Hartford, CT, one of the project’s sponsors.
“Life cycle analysis shows that 80 percent to 85 percent of the total energy consumption and CO2 emissions of a building comes from occupancy through heating, cooling, ventilation and hot water use,” said Bruno Lafont, chairman and CEO of Lafarge, Paris, France, another of the sponsoring companies. “If we want to make an impact on climate change, we therefore need to tackle this challenge,” he added.
“The world is undergoing rapid transformation, with strong demographic and economic growth driving a move towards urbanization on an unprecedented scale. We, as industry leaders, have a responsibility to ensure that this growth is achieved in a sustainable manner,” said Lafont.
ZERO NET ENERGY USE
WBCSD’s Energy Efficiency in Buildings Project is a three-year initiative to assess the environmental impacts of buildings and develop means to achieve zero net energy use for residential and commercial buildings.
The project’s other participating companies are CEMEX, DuPont, Electricité de France, Gaz de France, Kansai, Philips, Sonae Sierra and Tepco.