A new report by BRE and Sweett Group challenges the view that sustainable buildings are more costly to construct. The report shows that achieving lower BREEAM ratings can incur little or no additional costs.
While targeting higher BREEAM ratings – which equate with more challenging sustainability levels – incurs some additional cost (typically less than 2%), a study of operational costs shows this can be paid back within 2–5 years through utility cost savings.
The report’s authors applied cost data from real construction projects to three case study buildings – an office, secondary school and community healthcare centre – to obtain detailed capital and operational cost information.
The report presents detailed cost information for a range of actions, including low-cost or no-cost actions that can readily be used to enhance building sustainability (‘quick wins’), and those initiatives that must be built into the project at the concept stage to minimise their costs.
The report also examines the life-cycle costs of operating buildings, focusing on energy and water consumption, and found that specifying sustainability measures during the building’s design and procurement stage can result in cost savings over the operational life of the building for little or no additional upfront cost.