Green building is becoming increasingly popular amongst many developed countries due to the visibly negative impacts that conventional building has on the environment. Although there are many advantages for the government, the future of the environment, and the economy, there are also some unfavorable or questionable features that come along with the transformation of policies regarding a green building supply. Many existing approaches–such as incentives, technological advances, and the implementation of rating tools for building evaluation–have been used as a way to encourage the construction of environmentally-friendly edifices, but incentives seem to be the most effective in the long-term sense.
To explain why incentives are the best method, a further analysis of other strategies used to implement innovative policies will be addressed.
The definition of green building differs depending on the country, in most cases–for example, China and the United States do not think of green building in the exact same way, therefore changing the way in which they go about the different processing of construction, certification, design, and providing funding.
This is due to factors such as the economy, geographical differences, and lack of or excess of resources. Essentially, green building, also known as green construction or sustainable building, is the use of recycled materials and techniques that minimize the output of pollution during the construction process; from the time of design up until renovations are needed. As stated previously, this type of environmentally-friendly development is being substituted for traditional methods of construction more and more each year.
The increase in green building is not only due to the positive impacts it has on the environmental, but also the social and economic advantages that comes along with it.
Green buildings improve living and working conditions of people and save the project owners money as well as those who live in the buildings, thus resulting in a greater profit when creating these structures.. From an economic perspective, the cost savings are all in the building performance–its ability to operate in a way that consumes less energy, water, etc, thus bringing down the costs of these utilities. For example, studies show that green building can save 30% of energy consumption than conventional buildings, while refraining from utilizing green technology can result in extremely high energy bills for noth the owners and the occupants.. From a health perspective, not even in an environmental sense, green buildings are more beneficial to the occupants than conventional edifices. Studies have shown that health conditions as well as productivity level increase once the resident takes on their new green home. Studies have shown a 25% increase in the productivity of those who live in green housing and they are less likely to skip work due to dwindling health conditions.
The main question that arises when concerning green construction is: how are those in the construction industry encouraged to create these nature-friendly complexes rather than sticking to their conventional supplies and methods? One answer to this query is incentives. Incentives are a driving force in the adoption of green building practices around the globe due to the fact that, if project owners comply with the government, then they will be rewarded or benefit from their actions in some way; both the self-determination theory (the idea that humans are motivated to assimilate and integrate knowledge and capacities in both their physical and social environments (wehmeyer, 2018)) and idea of controlling motivation explain that positive actions carried out by humans equals them expecting a positive outcome. Incentives are very complex in relation to sustainable building and can be broken up into four divisions: external, internal, financial, and non-financial. External incentives are set up in a way so that the beneficiaries do not receive their benefits until they fulfill the design or green building requirements set by the government; therefore this is more of a forced incentive rather than a compliance.
Internal incentives, on the other hand, allows owners of building projects to receive benefits because they acted out of choice rather than being forced. Financial incentives consist of money-related benefits such as direct grants, tax deductions or exemption, rebates, and discounted development application fees. Taxes can also be raised if construction companies do not comply with government green building requirements, therefore, in this case tax incentives can be used in both a positive and negative manner. Non-financial incentives occur in the form of assistance and relief programs, as well as zoning perks. Although these benefits are not directly financial, the effects of utilizing them result in financial rewards for project owners. For instance, those who incorporate sustainable building materials in their development are more likely to get their projects approved quicker. A non-financial incentive called the Floor-to-Area density incentive gives green building owners more building area than would be alloted with traditional construction. This, paired with the assistance and relief programs, results in project owners saving both money and time.
However, the government cannot simply take on this task of promoting and investing in green building by themselves. Which is why some declare that green building projects fall short in relation to financial attainability. The initial cost of green building is too much for the private sector, therefore they are hesitant to contribute to green building, but in order to maintain a steady promotion of green building, they will have to take an initiative and contribute to funding through incentives.
There are many ways in which the government approves projects for both financial and non-financial green building. Due to the emergence of green building, evaluation and rating tools were developed so that green buildings could be inspected for certification purposes. For example, in 1990 the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method was developed in order to evaluate and rate green buildings during their life cycles. The establishment of this rating tool gave way to the development of other tools by the green buildings councils within countries around the globe. The united states has a rating system called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the BRE Environmental Assessment Method is the the rating tool designated to the United Kingdom.
There is the Green Building Council of Australia Green Star, the Green Mark Scheme in Singapore, DGNB in Germany, Comprehensive Assessment System for Built Environment Efficiency in Japan, Pearl Rating System for Estidama in Saudi Arabia, and lastly, the Hong Kong Building Environmental Assessment Method. The assessors commissioned by these rating tools are in charge of measuring the quality of the energy efficiency and building materials during both the design and operational stages. Although, just like the definition of green building, the certification process varies according to the country, but this is the basic way in which it is carried out: pre-assessment stage using a pre-assessment estimator, registration is done by an assessor, assessor submits evidence for certification, certifications are either rewarded or not.
Another way in which certification is used is during the demolition stage of green building. The goal of green building is to, of course, reduce the amount of waste and increase the amount of sustainable building supplies. To carry out this method, products from demolition are reused the the construction of new green buildings–and rating tools are used in order to evaluate whether or not the building has used enough demolition wastes in its construction in order for the project owners to receive an incentive. For instance, 2 points will be awarded if 75% of C&D waste is recycled and reused as specified in the LEED framework. Similarly, there are 5 credits related to recycle and reuse of building materials or components in GBCA Green Star Office Design V2 rating tool. These credits are assigned 13 points, which accounts for more than 50% of total points under the Material category.
Despite having a multi-step process in which the government evaluates the standards of green buildings, there are still limitation that come along with certification. The main issue is that certification is more focused on the design stage rather than the operational stages across the map. Therefore, the total amount of green buildings being constructed is low compared to what is being certifieD. In the United states, for example, operational green buildings account for only 3.04% of what has been certified by the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method, which is the lowest percentage when compared with china’s buildings that are in use, which is 6.35%.
Another issue that relates to green building and incentives is the fact that many governments have connected the incentive programs with certification. So, as state previously, in order to receive an incentive such as the Floor-to-Area, the buildings must meet the standards of a certain rating tool and learn certification. A second issue with certification is the fact that complying with the rating tool standards and in order to achieve a high star ranking, the owners must spend even more money on the project to have the best technologies,materials, designs, etc. This is in addition to other large costs.
Therefore, there is no definite way for the owners to know if their buildings will earn the certification that leads to them earning incentives to make up for the initial costs of the design and building of the sustainable structures. In turn, they spend more money than they earn back in either financial or non-financial rewards given by the government. For example, in order to comply with the United State’s LEED rating tool, the owner will spend at least $40,000 to $200,000. However, they may not be able to benefit if the money to create this project is not up to LEED’s standards and they earn a low level star certification. This also goes along with the criticism that green buildings lack enforceability in the case of nonpayment. The investors and owners cannot get back the resources, time, or money spent on the sustainable building project cannot be recovered if the incentives do not match up with initial costs.
In conclusions, incentives are still the most effective way to promote green building, but there are also negative aspects that come along with this method. However, the positive environmental, economic, and health of society outweigh the negatives when it only really impacts the owners negatively. There could be many new ways in which financial and nonfinancial incentives are implemented by the government and the private sector could also create funding for these projects–the possibilities are seemingly endless.