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NEW YORK CITY-The cost premium on building green has all but disappeared, the Urban Green Council says in a new report. “We must prioritize greening our cities and cost is not the barrier some have made it out to be,” says Russell Unger, executive director of the UGC, the New York City chapter of the US Green Building Council, in a release.

Prepared for the UGC by Davis Langdon, the study looked at construction costs for 38 high-rise multifamily buildings and 25 commercial interiors here. It found that LEED-certified high-rises came in at an average of $440 per square foot, compared to $436 pr square foot for non-LEED projects. The differential was less than 1%, according to the report. On commercial interiors, the cost of $191 per square foot for LEED construction was actually 6% lower than the $204 per square foot cost of non-LEED.

“This study should lay to rest the claims of skeptics who have questioned whether green building and value can co-exist,” Unger says in a release. “It shows that once you set a project budget, you can build green or non-green within those parameters.”

The cost angle has become particularly important as construction funding remains a more precious commodity in the current economy. “Undoubtedly, project teams are now on the lookout for every opportunity to save money,” the report states. “However, where green is a stated project goal, teams find ways of incorporating green elements into their projects by tailoring their design choices and budgets appropriately.”

Titled “Cost of Green in NYC,” the report notes that when construction funding is reduced, project teams “are not debating the inclusion of sustainable design measures, but are instead considering whether to continue with the project at all, regardless of green goals. For those projects able to continue with construction, green has become an added selling point and turning away from sustainability would be a poor long-term strategy.”

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