The "Green Premium" has become somewhat tabooed as The World Green Building Council acknowledges that the average cost is over-estimated by up to 29% due to people forgetting to take into account the price decreases as green technologies commodify and become more available, that and the long term savings when it comes to energy consumption.
These affordable and accessible products or as The Green Building Council of Australia have deemed them, "Unsung Sustainability Heroes", can be substituted into any build with little to no variation on cost.
Water Efficient Fittings
Between 21-30% of potable water use in Australian urban centers is accounted for within the Industrial/Commercial sector. Simple water efficient fixtures can be incorporated into any commercial building, whether it's low-flow shower heads, water-saving toilets/urinals or sinks with auto shutoff mechanisms, can all drastically reduce total water consumption.
The cost of LED lights have dropped dramatically and offers a significant dividend with the pay back period usually being less than a few years. According to the Australian Greenhouse Office, on average lighting accounts for 67% of commercial tenant's energy costs, a LED retrofit can have a substantial impact on a buildings overall energy usage.
Low VOC Paints
Paints low in volatile organic compounds are being recognised both for their long-term financial benefits along with health benefits for occupants. Low VOC paints don't add cost to a project and are available from GBCA members including Wattyl and Dulux.
It may seem obvious but indoor plants are cheap, readily available, look good and are good for you. A recent survey revealed that 92% of Australian office workers believe it's important to be connected to nature. It's a well known fact that plants purify the air surrounding us, reducing both VOC and carbon dioxide from the air and releasing oxygen, but the benefits seem to be more large-scale then we're aware. The CSIRO estimates that $12 billion annually is lost through the health cost of poor indoor air quality in absenteeism and productivity.
CSR, another GBCA member, have recently gained Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) certification for the majority of its plasterboard range. As of 2014, Gyprock's entire range was GECA accredited meaning there are 16 environmentally sustainable Gyprock plasterboard variants.
We often over look the importance of simple design features that are sometimes neglected, it's surprising the amount of commercial buildings where windows are fixed closed. Being able to open a window to let fresh air in and heat out, maintaining a clear air-path, ensuring an abundance of natural lighting or shading a facade are all valuable sustainable design initiatives.