Green building materials will save money for businesses

01/12/2015

Sustainable building designs offer businesses several advantages. Increasingly, companies are using green building materials to magnify the cost-saving effect of sustainable energy technology. Environmentally minded companies enjoy the financial benefits of being green.

Big-name companies are going green 
Environmental Leader recently reported that Whole Foods and Google are now using a building material called Ecor in their business locations. Ecor, developed by Noble Environmental Technologies in Serbia, is made from 100 percent recycled material.

Interestingly, Ecor was created in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture and is used by cabinet and furniture makers, designers and architects alike. It can replace materials that are typically made from cardboard, plastic, aluminum, fiberboard and traditional wood panels. Ecor is also free of toxins and highly practical, according to the news source.

Sustainable materials such as Ecor offer businesses the same durability and use as other trusted building materials, but they also save money for companies due to the less expensive maintenance and repair costs. Ecor is one of many options available to those who want to incorporate greener materials in their corporate properties. 

Sustainable techniques keep costs down during winter
As winter settles in, the topic of insulation becomes relevant with regard to energy efficiency. Homeowners commonly reduce their heating costs by applying window treatments and using programmable thermostats. On the business side, there are similar methods that can be employed to keep costs down.

Mike Schoenecker, vice president at Winkelman Building Corp., recently wrote an article on LinkedIn that outlines how green building saves money. Schoenecker said that the financial benefit of sustainable energy like solar power and geothermal technology is compounded by installing green materials such as energy-efficient windows and roofing. In the same way that a homeowner insulates his or her attic as an easy way to keep heat from escaping the house, companies - some of which have already started using renewable energy sources - can select building materials that conserve energy and keep costs down.

Schoenecker suggested using bamboo instead of hardwood as a way to make positive changes without sacrificing durability or style. An investment of $4 per square foot now, he argued, will yield $58 of savings per square foot over a 20-year period. In his article on LinkedIn, Schoenecker also suggested using recycled glass, drywall and steel in buildings because of the money saved and benefit to the environment. Like Ecor, costs will be kept to a minimum without sacrificing product efficiency. 

What successful implementation looks like
In the example of big-name companies, Whole Food uses Ecor for their signage, while Google uses it for their wavy interior panels. Ecor, according to Environmental Leader, is reportedly 75 percent lighter than conventional panel products and can also be shaped into any form - such as waves or spheres. While the manufacturing cost of Ecor started out at $3 to $4 per square foot, the current cost is approximately 29 cents per square foot. The dramatic drop in the cost of production signifies that with green building materials there is always room for growth. It is impressive that such a versatile product can be this affordable, which speaks to the strength of green building materials.

Schoenecker highlighted what many experts have said - businesses that invest an additional 2 percent in overhead for green materials, instead of traditional building materials, on average, will recover up to seven times of that cost in the long run.

Additionally, it is worth noting that there are government incentives for sustainable business practices. Schoenecker mentioned rebates and tax credits offered to businesses that commit to sustainable energy like solar, wind and geothermal technology. The U.S. Department of Energy provides a database that details all of these federal incentives. As green building materials become more widespread, partly due to their ability to accentuate the savings from sustainable energy technology, the government may soon offer additional discounts. Products like Ecor, bamboo flooring panels and recycled glass windows are already priced competitively with respect to traditional materials. It is likely that the costs benefits of green materials will keep getting better.

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