Every construction project begins with a pre-conceptualization plan and a cost estimate. Presently professional cost estimators assist the people involved with the project to assess the costs of the building construction in the larger perspective of its lifecycle.
Further, with all projects adopting green practices for building there is increased pressures on the final budget of any project. The role of professional cost estimators becomes critical due to this. Reconciling the initial (and today’s) cost for intangible long-term goals of sustainable buildings is the goal of adopting sustainable practices for a building. Estimating the costs of such drivers is indeed challenging and requires greater understanding of the owner’s ultimate needs and the effectiveness of the green practices prescribed by building contractors/designers/architects for the building.
Global costs for construction of green buildings differ from country to country as raw material costs, technical costs of design, and contractors differ. Additionally, the green certification level the owner wants will become the key driver of cost estimating.
For example, in the US , the Leeds certification requires compliance to 7 mandatory green features for a building. The certified (26-32 points), silver (33-38 points), gold (39-51 points) and platinum (52-69 points) are the different rating levels and the number of green feature-points that need to be incorporated to achieve the certification levels.
Logistics determine that a pre-conceptualization plan or a pre-design stage rendezvous that includes mechanical engineers (as mechanical and plumbing designs gain rating points) will help in evaluating the project scope for each of the 69 points.
Once the points or features are short-listed, the cost estimation stage arrives. It is important to know that most of project costs fall under three categories. Costs of incorporating racks for bicycles or a shower system are called additional costs and are to an extent discretionary in nature. Costs of incorporating certified raw materials such as treated wood in the place of non-certified wood are premium costs. Intangible costs such as location from schools, public transit or hospitals are purely no- cost but are important indirectly.
Several project life-cycle costs are determined by the level of the certification. On a point-to-point basis cost-estimation indicates that just the certified-level and the silver-level are achievable at minimal costs, while higher certifications of gold and platinum are achieved only through high-cost investments. Another important add-on cost is the administration charges towards LEED’s for monitoring the incorporation of the green features during design and construction stages.
Cost-estimating is a very complex and highly subjective process that involves discussions, analysis and conclusions. However, actual project costs will be subject to final ground conditions and the level and ease of decision making by all involved in the project. Using sustainable practices is the norm and becoming aware of the additional costs and methods to budget for them (through additional grants available for sustainable practices), will ensure you remain on top of cost-estimates and come away with increased levels of satisfaction of adopting greener, mature and more beneficial building construction.