That’s the message from the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) as it gears up for its fourth annual World Green Building Week.


From Monday until Friday Green Building Councils in 98 countries representing more than 25,000 organisations will host events, run campaigns and celebrate World Green Building Week under the theme Greener Buildings, Better Places, Healthier People.


"Green buildings play a fundamental role in addressing some of the most pressing challenges of our time. World Green Building Week showcases how green buildings are reducing the global carbon footprint, saving money and improving productivity, creating jobs and improving the lives of millions of people," says the WorldGBC’s CEO, Jane Henley.


From conferences and site tours to award ceremonies and twitter chats, GBCs will be taking part in hundreds of activities around the world.

"The WorldGBC network has expanded from eight GBCs in 2002 to 98 today. This explosive growth underscores the value of our industry as we work to create a world of greener, better, healthier buildings," says Henley.


Says Rick Fedrizzi, chairman of the WorldGBC: "Together we are a powerful global force of change and there’s no better time to celebrate our successes and re-dedicate ourselves to our work than at the WorldGBC Congress to be held in Cape Town.


"Individually we are changing the landscape of our countries as we inspire and educate our communities on the critical role green buildings play in our lives.


"Over these three days we’ll have the opportunity to share best practices from our own experiences and brainstorm ways to continue tearing down barriers to our shared mission to transform the global built environment so that it enhances our health, protects our precious resources and provides for economic growth across all market sectors.


"We’ll hear updates on policy frameworks and investment forecasts that will give us new insights. We’ll also have the opportunity to experience an innovation rich expo floor filled with the latest in products, technologies and service delivery platforms that can help us all advance our work."


Ms Henley says that in just a decade, the global green building movement has driven a dramatic shift in the way we interact with our buildings and what we expect from them.


"The first wave of environmentally-conscious building arose as a response to demand for energy and resource efficiency.


"Times have changed, and our focus on improving the environmental design, construction and performance of buildings has broadened. Today, we are beginning to understand that green buildings do more than enhance the environment.


"They reduce operating costs, improve asset value, mitigate risk, support jobs growth and improve the productivity, health and wellbeing of the people who live and work in them.


"And yet, many of these compelling financial and social benefits are hard to quantify. To address this, in March the World Green BuildingCouncil released the Business Case for Green Building: A Review of the Costs and Benefits for Developers, Investors and Occupants, which synthesises all credible evidence of the financial and social value of green buildings into one definitive reference guide.


"The report looks at the costs and benefits to business in five categories — design costs; asset value; operational costs; workplace health and productivity; and risk mitigation. Using peer-reviewed evidence as the standard for our analysis and a steering committee of experts from around the world, the report examines the value of green building at each stage of the building life cycle.


"First, while the perceived cost premium associated with green building has been an overriding barrier, this report finds conclusively that green design and construction doesn’t need to cost more. A green building can be cost-neutral when compared to its conventional counterpart — provided environmental strategies and programme management are integrated from the outset.


"Our research found a significant gap between perceptions of cost premiums and reality. Industry professionals operate under the assumption that building green increases design and construction cost by 10%-20% with some estimates as high as 29%. In fact, our research reveals that the actual green building premium is in the range of minus 0.4%-12.5%. In other words, some green buildings are cheaper to build than non-green buildings, and even those with a premium cost far less than the perception.


"Second, ‘green’ and value are now inextricably linked. A number of peer-reviewed studies from around the world show evidence of a connection between the green characteristics of buildings and the ability of these buildings to attract higher sale prices and rents in some markets.


"The evidence reveals a consistent pattern of premiums — although there is some significant variation in different markets. In markets where green is more mainstream, there are indications of emerging ‘brown discounts’, where buildings that are not green may rent or sell for less.


"In use, green buildings have been shown to save money through reduced energy and water consumption and lower long-term operations and maintenance costs. Energy savings in green buildings typically exceed any cost premiums associated with their design and construction within a reasonable payback period," says Ms Henley.