The operating phase of a building can account for up to 80% of its lifetime costs, making it the most expensive and most prolonged period of its lifecycle. As energy and water prices continue to rise, building owners and facility managers are looking for ways to reduce operating costs without compromising performance.
Building “green” offers a sustainable, cost-effective solution to reduce energy and water consumption and maintenance costs. The benefits of green buildings extend far beyond financial savings, though. They can also improve the health and well-being of buildings’ occupants and the surrounding environment. Moreover, IoT and AI-based technologies like WINT can ensure that building owners and facility managers optimize their operations and save money, making them an even more attractive investment.
In this article we take a closer look at the difference between “green”, sustainable, and resilient buildings, outline the cost savings of operating green buildings, and explore how water management, and water intelligence technologies like WINT, play a vital role in making commercial real estate greener.
What’s the difference between green, sustainable, and resilient?
The terms green, sustainable, and resilient are often used interchangeably but have different meanings.
While green refers to buildings and measures that benefit the environment, the term sustainable typically means the structure meets certain building certifications or standards, which measure its environmental performance.
The most well-known sustainable building certification is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which evaluates a building’s sustainability across several categories, including water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation. LEED is one of the most widely recognized sustainable building certifications globally and has become a standard in the industry. However, it’s worth noting that there are other sustainable building certifications and standards beyond LEED that building owners and facility managers can consider when evaluating the sustainability of their buildings.
Sustainable buildings are designed to minimize environmental impact, and their certification recognizes their high performance. A resilient structure is one designed to withstand natural disasters, which is becoming increasingly important in a world where climate change is causing more extreme weather events. Understanding the differences between these terms is essential to make informed decisions about building design and operations.
Ecology and cost-efficiency go hand in hand
One common misconception about green buildings is that they’re more expensive than traditional ones. While it’s true that green buildings may have a higher upfront cost, long-term savings more than make up for it. According to a report by the Smart CRE, green buildings can save between 25%-50% energy, 10%-40% in water consumption, and reduce maintenance costs by about 12%. These savings can lead to a return on investment of up to 40% over a building’s lifetime. By reducing energy and water consumption, green buildings also save money on utility bills. They also require less maintenance, which reduces operational costs.
The ROI of green buildings is compelling. According to a study by the Green Building Council, green buildings can have a payback period of as little as 3-5 years, with a return on investment of up to 40% over the building’s lifetime. These cost savings make green buildings attractive for building owners and facility managers looking to reduce operating costs and improve their bottom line.
What going green really means
- Energy efficiency: energy-efficient design features and technologies, such as insulation, efficient lighting, smart HVAC systems, and renewable energy sources, contribute to reduced energy consumption.
- Sustainable materials: the use of eco-friendly materials, recycled content, and sustainable construction practices.
- Proper maintenance practices, such as regular equipment tune-ups and air filter replacements, can extend the lifespan of building systems and reduce operational costs.
- Water conservation: water-saving features like low-flow fixtures, rainwater harvesting systems, efficient irrigation systems and water management systems like WINT.
Water management plays a key role in green buildings
Water is one of our most precious natural resources; conserving it wherever possible is essential. Green architecture can minimize water waste by incorporating strategies like water reuse and efficient plumbing fixtures. A study by Kats for the LEED program found that water-saving systems in green buildings save 39% more water than similar non-green buildings.
Additionally, water efficiency can lessen the strain on shared water supplies and allow for water recycling within the building. By conserving water, we can also reduce the energy required to supply and treat it, leading to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
The destructive power of water and the ensuing operational cost
Water damage is one of the most significant threats to building performance and can result in direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include repairing and replacing damaged materials, while indirect costs can include business disruption, lost time, and increased insurance premiums. In extreme cases, water damage can render a building uninhabitable, resulting in significant financial losses. By implementing water-saving strategies and technology like WINT, building owners and facility managers can reduce the risk of water damage and the resulting operational costs.
WINT: optimizing green building performance with smart water management
IoT and AI-based technologies like WINT can help building owners and facility managers optimize operations and save money. WINT is an IoT solution that uses artificial intelligence to detect leaks and water waste, providing real-time data to help users make informed decisions. In addition, WINT can help prevent water damage by detecting leaks and notifying building operators in real-time, allowing them to take action before significant damage occurs.
WINT has proven to save over 25% in water usage for commercial buildings, helping them significantly reduce operating costs. For the Empire State Building, retrofitting WINT resulted in a cost saving of $100,000 per year, reducing carbon emissions by over 300 metric tons.
Green buildings offer a sustainable and cost-effective solution to reduce operating costs, improve building performance, and minimize environmental impact. By incorporating energy and water-saving strategies and technology like WINT, building owners and facility managers can future-proof their buildings and save money.
Speak to us today to learn more about green buildings and how WINT can help optimize your facilities’ operations.