[Bldg-rate] Intro, and Costs of Green, at least personally

Wise, James A James_A_Wise at RL.gov
Wed Sep 3 14:23:17 PDT 2008


Thank you for starting this List, and I look forward to some great discussion around building rating systems.  I've joined up because its raison d'etre is right in the focus of my new job responsibility here at DOE-RL, to help shepherd in new DOE Sustainability Initiatives to Hanford Site operations. Part of these involve High Performance Sustainable Building Assessment of all new construction and significant remodels.  The DOE Sustainable Building Assessment Tool being used is based largely upon LEED criteria.

As to the 'Cost of Green', I've had some personal experience with this on the residential side in designing and building a new 'green' home here over the past six months. I'll have to get out the calculator and add up the $, but I'm pretty certain its somewhere around 8-10% above the standard package the builder offered, and the State of Washington has a pretty progressive energy performance residential building code that package met.

Some of the energy improvements made were 'no-brainers', such as specifying tech-shield underlayment on the roof OSB panels, which significantly reduces solar heat transfer through the roof. The crews working in the house this summer were amazed to find it so much cooler inside than their other jobs. This solar heat shield is only a few hundred $ extra on a moderate sized house.

Other items, such as a Noritz on-demand whole house hot water heater ended up being a few K$ more than the standard hot water tank, and I'd hate to see the ROI on it. Yet I just can't see the logic in keeping a tank of water heated up for most of the time when no one's home, or not using it.

Anyway, its been a real experience, and a real lesson in trying  to 'build green'.  I think  the commercial building sector is much further along in reducing the cost differential between green and standard practices than the residential one, especially in this part of the PNW. BTW, most of LEED Residential was totally irrelevant to the design and construction decisions that had to be made by myself, the owner, on my homebuilding project. I looked everywhere for a really helpful SFH green building guide or rating system when starting out, but was severely disappointed in what I didn't find.

Looking forward to great discussions ahead,


James A. Wise, Ph.D.
Sustainability Shepherd
Adjunct Prof. Environmental Scis. WSU-TC

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