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The Hensley Field Operations Center in Dallas received a LEED gold rating for new construction. Photo: USGBC
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The Summit County (Colo.) Materials Recycling Facility was the first green-built recycling center in the country and was recognized by the Green Globes environmental assessment and rating system for commercial buildings. Photo: GBI

“Green Globes for Continual Improvement of Existing Buildings,” for example, can benchmark energy and environmental performance across all municipal buildings, then give regular assessments to identify and address problem areas that may result in unnecessarily high operating costs. This module is in the pilot stage, and you can sign up to participate on the GBI Web site.

Whichever option your municipality eventually decides to go with, Michelle Moore, vice president of community development for the U.S. Green Building Council says it best: “You are working to build a legacy when you opt to use a feedback method like LEED.”

Can I afford to go green?

The short answer: Yes. As a member of the global community, you can't afford not to build sustainably. If you've seen the Academy Award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, you'll understand the urgency with which we must all consider how we treat our environment.

The long answer: Yes, but it will cost more up front.

Sustainable products such as solar panels or specialized building materials cost about 2% more than standard construction materials, though others put the estimates as high as 15% more. These non-traditional or recycled materials sometimes costs more to purchase and install, but they pay for themselves down the road, with the pay-back timeline depending on the product. An investment like solar power might pay off quickly, saving building owners money on their electric bill (or even by getting a one-time incentive from the local utility).

Price depends on how far you want to go with your building; some options cost more than others. In LEED, for instance, building costs rise along with the level of certification, since platinum-level buildings incorporate more sustainable products than a silver certification.

In addition, the Green Building Initiative requires third-party verification as part of the certification for Green Globes. To use the tool and do a self-assessment, Green Globes costs $500. Third-party verification, which includes a walk-through by a trained verifier, starts at $4000 for a building of less than 50,000 square feet.

No matter the cost, the long-term benefits certainly outweigh the alternatives of poorly built municipal facilities that are energy inefficient or that need to be re-built a decade or two down the road.

For more information, visit: Green Globes: www.thegbi.org/greenglobes LEED: www.usgbc.org/LEED