Thursday, May 19, 2011

Budgeting Methodology for Sustainable Construction

Time and time again the topic of “How much more does it cost to build sustainable buildings?” has come up. This is a tricky question. Whether it is a sustainable building or not, ultimately the cost of construction will be determined by the choices we make and why we make them. The dynamics of a building are crucial. Business models have a huge impact on what our expectations and goals will be. I would like to address several topics in the next few blogs that relate to various factors in sustainable construction. The first is along the lines of Planning and Scheduling. This is a core capability of our firm here at HICAPS. We live by this rule. It is amazing how this relates to so many things in life.

First and foremost, you need to make decisions for the right reasons. If it makes sense to focus on energy cost savings, then of course you would make choices that would achieve that goal. Therefore it is necessary to understand and establish the project goals, including specific goals. For example if you are designing and constructing a LEED building, the first step is to fill out the LEED checklist. This will enable the team to clearly understand the project goals and expectations. The next step is to have a cost model that will align your budget to these goals. This clearly defines the project budget and communicates to the team budget limitations. Once you establish your cost model and allocate funds to achieve the goals set by your project, stay on track throughout the entire project. To do this, documentation should start as early as possible in the project. Update and monitor your checklist on a regular basis so you have clear understanding of how the sustainable goals are being met. Use energy and cost models as design tools. Cost models will allow you to track cost impact from any necessary changes in design or procedures as the project progresses.

Gabriele Medley-Harry, LEED AP BD&C

Director of Sustainable Construction