From: Aubrey Cohen, seattlepi.com
Published April 16, 2009 10:19 AM

Does green building make cents? It depends

Developer Tony Case isn't looking for a quick payback on his ambitiously green building plan.

"Because we are thinking about hanging onto the building for the long term, we really felt like it's in our long-term interest to create as sustainable a building as we can," Case, the owner of Seattle-based Case Design & Project Management said Tuesday.

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Case plans to build a four-story building with five apartments and six live-work units at 2705 S. Winthrop St., in the Rainier Valley. More interestingly, he plans for it to meet a strict set of green-building requirements, including that it produces at least as much energy as it consumes, reuses the water that falls as rain on the site for toilets and laundry, offsets the carbon footprint of its construction, uses local materials, diverts nearly all construction waste from landfills and includes "design features intended solely for human delight and the celebration of culture, spirit and place appropriate to the function of the building."

There are at least 60 proposed Living Buildings in design or under construction in North America, including Case's project and a house under construction on the Eastside.

A new study says the Living Building Challenge criteria pay back their added cost within a reasonable period in most cases, compared with buildings with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification, which is the second-highest level in the U.S. Green Building Council's rating program.

Another new Washington study, however, says new green schools do not save enough energy to recover their extra costs.

The Cascadia Region Green Building Council's created the Living Building Challenge in 2006 in "the belief that our society needs to quickly find a state of balance between the natural and built environments," according to the challenge guide.

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