Green Communities and Local Economic Development

The BC Cancer Agency Research Centre in Vancouver, certified at LEED Gold, was $6 million under budget and completed ahead of schedule. / Ledcor Construction LtdEnergy needed to heat, cool and power residential and commercial buildings accounts for about 12% of emissions in BC communities [1]. Energy costs for building operation are also a significant cost in every sector – residential, commercial, industrial and institutional.

While transforming community building stocks is a longer term task, it will address a major component of overall community emissions, and can be started immediately.

In addition to the potential emission reductions for the community, transitioning to low-carbon buildings has a strong economic rationale. A good community building emissions reduction strategy can also be a good community economic development strategy. Transitioning to local, renewable energy sources, a key element of low-carbon buildings, supports local economic development, countering the large amounts of energy revenues that typically leave communities.

For the development and real estate industry, green buildings make business sense.Ozzie Jurock, real estate advisor

Other potential benefits of green and low-carbon buildings include:

  • Reduced government infrastructure energy consumption, emissions and costs – for example, associated with demands on water supply and sewer systems
  • Reduced exposure of residents and businesses to price fluctuations and generally rising costs in conventional energy supplies
  • Lower operational and life-cycle costs for building owners and tenants
  • Improved employee productivity and therefore business economic performance - a productivity gain of between 2 and 10% when moving from an average building to a green building; for most office buildings, even the 2% gain will be sufficient to more than compensate for extra green building costs [2].

Though local governments do not have direct control over community buildings, private industry has enormous potential for innovation. Local governments are key agents in fostering change and innovation, through working with private industry in the major building sectors.

Green buildings are now being designed and built for minimal to no additional cost. A US 2007 study, The Cost of Green Revisited, concluded that there is no significant difference in average costs for green buildings as compared to non-green buildings. Also, market demand for green buildings is now being identified, with associated higher occupancy rates, stronger rents and sale prices according to a USA study by CoStar Group.

[Use the tabs above to learn HOW you can reduce emissions in community buildings.]

[1] Province of BC, Climate Action Plan (p.36), 2008

[2] Morrison Hershfield, A Business Case for Green Buildings in Canada (p.26), 2005