Study Compares Costs to Green Chicago Real Estate

October 10, 2011

A recent study analyzing green certification costs in the Chicago real estate market found that the program often considered when it comes to green building is also the least affordable.

The study compared the green certification costs of three rating systems for home building and remodeling in the Chicago market:

*Chicago Green Homes

*National Green Building Standard

*LEED-H, the U.S. Green Building Council rating system for single-family homes

white figure holding a magnifying glass over a green house.The results of the “Urban Green Building Rating System Cost Comparison” found the USGBC’s program to be the least cost-efficient of the three and the National Green Building Standard to be a more flexible, affordable alternative for certifying single-family homes, townhouses and condos.

“In all cases, registration, verification and certification costs for LEED-H were greater than the estimated costs for the CGH and the standard,” the study found. “LEED-H registration, verification and certification costs are approximately $2,776 compared to about $500 for verification and certification in the CGH or NGBS rating systems.”

The study, which was released by the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago and conducted by FitzGerald Associates Architects, PC, focused on the direct and indirect costs of attaining green certification under the three rating systems.

This isn’t the first time the National Green Building Standard has been touted as being most affordable. But, this is the first time the study looked at six-flats, the multifamily condo buildings found throughout Chicago neighborhoods.

“We are happy to see yet another independent study provide proof that certification to the National Green Building Standard is a credible, yet affordable path to high-performing, green residential buildings,” said Michael Luzier, president and CEO of the NAHB Research Center.

“This study underscores the ‘win-win’ proposition of certifying to the standard — it gives builders a way to legitimately go green and market that differentiation without busting their budgets, and it gives consumers at any price point a third-party, national certification they can rely on as verification of the green claims their builder is making.”

When a home builder or remodeler complies with the standard when building or remodeling multifamily buildings, “the certification cost savings multiply greatly, so you can see the true benefit of using that rating system,” said Patrick Coveny, chair of the Chicago HBA’s High Performance Home Green Building Council.

The HBAGC is hoping the study will help convince city leaders that the standard should be an option, along with LEED-H and CGH, for home builders and remodelers participating in Chicago’s green building initiatives.

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An explanation in this article as to the *cause* of the cost differential would be useful to include. The fact is that LEED requires performance testing of each home’s energy and comfort as part of the LEED certification process. This performance testing goes beyond meeting a green checklist and ensures homes are built and perform as designed. CGH and NGBS do not require (but do reward) this. Additionally, the cost of the Chicago Green Homes program is exaggerated as that program is FREE to city projects, not $500 as implied in this article. The full study appears not to be as independent as claimed, as there are inaccuracies about specific program requirements too, raising questions about credibility.

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