Texans Discuss LEED® Building Costs

On April 27th at the famous Scholz Garden in Austin, representatives of the U.S. Green Building Council discussed the advantages of wind turbines and the cost of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certified green construction.  The wind turbine and green construction discussions were led by Angela of the not-for-profit USGBC.Angela reported that the use of wind turbines for manufacturing purposes has been expanding in the Midwest.  Angela specifically sited an old Maytag facility in Iowa that has begun to build the popular wind turbines.  These are precisely the types of new green energy jobs called for by the American Recovery Act of 2009.The wind farms of the Midwest are spreading south where farmers and ranchers have high demand for energy.  Angela expects that the ideal wind turbine would produce 44 kw.  While these turbines have yet to be developed, she feels models will soon be perfected.The Austin legislature is taking a harder look at green building.  With a fairly even split between Republicans and Democrats, there is pressure to follow the federal government’s decision requiring new federal buildings to register with the USGBC’s LEED® certification process.  The legislature is also considering the passage of a new energy efficiency bill with incentives for taxpayers.Angela commented on recent reports that LEED® certified building costs were running 1 – 2% higher than traditional costs for a similar building.  The rebuttals included facts documenting that energy costs alone would be reduced by as much as 60%.The reduced energy costs would offset the increased construction costs in a very short time.  Additionally, the demand for LEED® certified construction is high with purchasers and tenants willing to pay more for LEED® certified buildings.  Angela sited one interesting scenario whereby a green school saved 20% or $100,000 in energy costs and was utilized the savings to employ two new teachers.  There is no doubt that education and green construction are a happy fit.

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