The built environment has a profound impact on our natural environment, economy, health and productivity. Breakthroughs in building science, technology and operations are available to designers, builders and owners who want to build green and maximize both economic and environmental performance. Green building:
- Enhances Productivity - Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a determining factor in employee productivity. If air quality is compromised, employee health is in jeopardy and absenteeism increases. Studies show that employees are more productive when working in an office that incorporates environmentally preferable design elements. In fact, productivity can increase by 6-16% with improved lighting and ventilation and the use of daylighting (Rocky Mountain Institute). Companies typically spend 70 times as much per square foot on salaries as on energy. “If you make changes in your workplace that cause employee productivity to rise by just 1% by square foot, you will save more money than you pay for all other per square foot costs combined (rent, heat, lights, etc).”
- Protects the Environment – Activities associated with operating commercial office buildings significantly contribute to environmental and health problems. Buildings consume 30% of total energy and 60% of electricity generated in the U.S. Lighting consumes 40% of the electricity used in buildings, with an additional 10% used just to cool the heat generated. Computers and office-related equipment use almost half of all energy used in buildings. Designing green can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and their associated air emissions that cause global warming, acid rain and smog. On average, every $1 invested in energy efficiency prevents the release of 6.7 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.
- Achieves Financial Gains – Economic benefits of green buildings include: reduced capital costs; reduced operating costs; reduced long-term costs by designing for adaptability for future modification; increased net operating income and increased value through energy efficiency savings; and reduced costs related to energy, water, maintenance and disposal. The savings flow directly to the bottom line by providing more net operating income for the owner/developer and leading to higher building valuation.
- Creates a Competitive Advantage -Building owners and tenants prefer energy-efficient buildings that lower utility bills. Marketing the environmental components in an office space may give a tenant an advantage when recruiting candidates or differentiating itself from other businesses in the same industry. Green buildings often lease faster than their traditional counterparts. Nationally recognized awards, such as the EPA’s Energy Star® Award and the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Rating System, are used as effective marketing tools to attract tenants and building owners.
ELPC waged a successful public advocacy campaign for energy efficiency building codes in Illinois.
In 2004, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Illinois Energy Efficient Commercial Building Act, HB 4099, which requires all new construction or substantial rehab of existing buildings to meet energy efficiency standards established by the International Energy Conservation Code. It covers all commercial, industrial and multi-unit residential properties.
In 2009, the General Assembly passed HB 3987, which amends the energy efficient building code to include all residential and commercial buildings.
In 2011, ELPC’s new green office earned a LEED Platinum designation from the U.S. Green Building Council. The Chicago office space is a case study of how environmental protection and economic development go hand-in-hand.
In 2012, ELPC negotiated language with the Homebuilders’ Association that preserved the Code’s automatic 3-year update cycle and ensured that Illinois will be among the first states in the nation to adopt the 2012 International Energy Efficiency Code.