Green buildings save you money on energy, but what about the other benefits? A recent study found that within the US, every dollar spent on green building saves an additional 60 cents in health and climate benefits.
Did you know buildings can deliver billions of dollars' worth of public health benefits, including fewer hospitalizations and reduced climate impacts? A new study says that's the case – if they're energy efficient buildings.
Experts at Harvard University examined a subset of green-certified buildings over a 16-year period in six countries: the U.S., China, India, Brazil, Germany and Turkey. Known as HEALTHfx, the study found nearly $6 billion in combined health and climate benefits.
- In some countries, health and climate benefits far exceeded – in dollar amounts – energy savings.
- Globally, the studied green-certified projects saved billions of dollars in energy costs.
- Globally, 33,000 kilotons of CO2 were avoided, equivalent to 7.1 million fewer passenger cars on the road for one year.
In the United States alone, this equates to saving:
- $6.7 billion in energy costs
- $2.7 billion in health costs
- 4,000 cases of respiratory symptoms
- 21,000 days work
- 16,000 days school
- up to 405 premature deaths
- 171 hospital admissions
The study found that for every dollar we spend on building green or energy saving in the US, we are also saving another 60 cents in health and climate benefits. These benefits include preventing of lost work, disease spread, property damage and premature death, hospitalization and illness from poor air quality. They also help reduce changes to our environment that will have long term affects on the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries.
John Madyck, the chief sustainability office at United Technologies (who was a primary financial supporter for this study) said about this study, "Green buildings are designed to save energy and water while promoting healthy indoor environments. Now we know the reduced environmental impact of building green is amplified with quantifiable benefits to public health and climate resilience. With this new human context, we can accelerate the green building movement globally from this groundbreaking research."
The study, supported in part by United Technologies can be found in full in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology. A range of infographics and details can be found at naturalleader.com.