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Benefits of Sustainable Building Design

Photo of an air-intake structure outside a Federal facility.
An air-intake structure outside of
this Federal facility lowers energy
costs by taking in chilly night air to
cool the building's data center.

The application of sustainable building design not only helps Federal facilities meet laws and regulations, it also provides them with many other benefits. These benefits include:

  • Lower energy costs
  • Reduction in operating and maintenance costs
  • Increase in productivity of building occupants
  • Improvement health and psychological well-being of building occupants
  • Reduction in pollutants
  • Opportunity to foster a positive public image.

Sustainable building design can reduce annual energy costs anywhere from 30%–50% with a return on investment within five to 10 years. Water savings and sustainable landscaping measures, as well as building commissioning and use of longer-lasting materials, save much more over their lifetimes than their incremental first costs. Scientific studies link health, psychological well-being, and task performance to sustainable features including good ventilation, personal controls, daylighting, low-emitting interior materials, etc. Liability associated with sick building syndrome may be reduced as well. As a result, absenteeism is reduced and productivity is increased with healthier more pleasant buildings.

Lowering energy use in buildings decreases sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and carbon dioxide emissions, making our cities cleaner, reducing the threat of climate change, and reducing costs to society. Choosing natural materials without harmful chemicals (such as formaldehyde) and low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) also reduces pollution within the supply chain of building materials and prevents off-gassing within buildings. Environmental stewardship in facilities fosters community acceptance, political support, better ability to attract and retain desirable employees, fewer complaints from surrounding communities, and easier siting of future facilities.