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Green government buildings cost 19 percent less to maintain

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On average, the 22 GSA buildings studied by the Department of Energy's research lab used 25 percent less energy than those not managed with sustainability in mind.

Buildings designed with sustainability in mind, such as the U.S. Courthouse in Seattle, cost an average of 19 percent less to maintain. (Image courtesy of U.S. District Court)

So, here's a post-script for Congressional leaders in Washington who, yet again, have failed to find a way to cut government spending: A new report from the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory finds that green-designed buildings cost at least 19 percent less to run than those that haven't been finetuned with the environment in mind.

The report, commissioned by the Government Services Administration, centered on 22 different federal building across the United States. Aside from being less expensive to maintain, those that were designed with sustainability practices in mind to conserve water, electricity and other natural resources also, on average:

  • Emitted 34 percent less carbon dioxide
  • Used 25 percent less energy and 11 percent less water
  • Had happier occupants

The evaluations have so far included more than 50 federal buildings across the nation, although this report focuses specifically on 22.

Noted Kim Fowler, senior research engineer at the lab and a lead author on the report:

"One can design and construct a building well, with the greenest of specifications, but if it's not operated well or isn't meeting the needs of the occupants, the grandest intents go out the operable window."

Not to make light of the federal deficit situation, but it is attention to the "little" things like this that will help the United States get on the path to balanced budgets again in the future. We are long past quick fixes.

(Image courtesy of U.S. District Court)

Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure