Better green metrics needed, says McGraw-Hill

McGraw-Hill ConstructionMcGraw-Hill Construction recently released its latest SmartMarket Executive Brief: Determining the Value of Green Building Investments: A Perspective From Industry Leaders on Triple Bottom Line Decision Making, in partnership with URS, at the White House’s 2012 GreenGov Symposium. The report provides the findings of qualitative research conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction through interviews with sustainability leaders in the education, healthcare, retail, manufacturing and federal government sectors on their perspectives about decision making for green building investments.

The report reveals that in order for green building to continue to gain market share at a comparable rate to the past decade, more far-reaching benefits need to be documented and demonstrated to organizational leadership for them to increase their level of green investments. These include benefits across the spectrum of financial, environmental and social benefits—often referred to as the “triple bottom line.”

The study includes recommendations on actions needed in the industry in order to accelerate green investments across the built environment:

  • Evaluate social, environmental and financial goals together when making decisions on green building investments;
  • Create green building benchmarks through standardization and disclosure of operational building costs;
  • Compile data and case studies that establish the value of nonfinancial benefits of green building;
  • Create better tools using a more thorough, industry-consensus definition of lifecycle costing based on impacts across the triple bottom line;
  • Assemble a public database of green project measures across the triple bottom line.

Through in-depth interviews with sustainability leaders, the report finds that organizations are using lifecycle cost analysis of operational savings to demonstrate the ROI of green and to justify green building projects. However, most respondents report there is a need for more data about the non-financial benefits of green to encourage their organizations to increase their investment in green building. This report also reveals the need for standardized measures that can fully capture the impact of green building across the triple bottom line.

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