Myths About Green Building Busted, Just In Time, Too.


Did the Vancouver Convention Centre give green building a bad name? Image credit the Tyee

Many have said that this is the year for the green building revolution to take off; Others see increasing challenges ahead. Chris Cheatham predicts more battles over green building codes, such as this one in Arizona; In Ohio, builders are fighting changes that would take wall insulation from R-13 to R-20, which is just ridiculous, nobody should be living in R-13 in Ohio. But they say "it's foolish to place more burdens on home buyers at a time when the economy is still weak."

Fortunately, in the midst of all of this backsliding, Monte Paulsen of the Tyee shows that "Green doesn't have to mean expensive, exotic or uncomfortable." Myth #1: Green buildings cost more.

Monte looks at a couple of Vancouver olympic projects that went over budget, and notes that many say that this demonstrates that green building costs more. But he suggests that it was more likely due to the timing and feature creep. He points to a study by Davis Langdon, Cost of Green Revisited that found negligible difference if it was done right.

Developers who persist in thinking about green building the same way they think about Sub Zero kitchens -- as something to be "added" on to a conventionally designed building -- will incur higher costs, the study warned.

"We continue to see project teams conceiving of sustainable design as a separate feature. This leads to the notion that green design is something that gets added to a project -- therefore they must add cost," the Davis Langdon study concluded. "Until design teams understand that green design is not additive, it will be difficult to overcome the notion that green design costs more."

Nic Darling made the same point much more graphically, calling it Polishing a turd.
Myth #2: Green building materials must be imported.

Only if you insist on imported bamboo instead of local certified wood. it just isn't true any more.

Myth #3: Green buildings' energy savings are more hype than reality

Again, old news, from the days when architects used to tack green gizmos on top of crappy buildings.

They created facilities that generate carbon-free power, then squander that energy in drafty and poorly insulated buildings. Such kluge-like constructions are the antithesis of green design, but it's understandable that passersby could confuse them for green buildings.

Myth #4: Green buildings are less comfortable.

Monte says it is a myth; I am not so sure. The engineers have us convinced that there is just one comfortable temperature and humidity and make us live it all year round, where we used to have to put on a sweater or take one off, and adjust to a range of temperatures. Some find living with the seasons more comfortable and pleasant; (see The Comfort Zone vs Comfort Point) others may not.

Myth #5: Green building is a fad.

Nope, because green buildings are more profitable, get higher rents and have higher occupancies. That is what the market appears to want.

Read it all in The Tyee

Tags: Green Building | Vancouver