There are lots of reasons for implementing green building practices in a commercial construction project.

The statistics speak for themselves. Occupying more than 75 billion square feet of commercial floor space, U.S. buildings are responsible for:

• 40 percent of total U.S. energy consumption

• 68 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption

• 12 percent of daily U.S. water consumption

• 38 percent of the nation’s total carbon dioxide emissions

And this doesn’t account for the harmful byproducts of building. Construction of new buildings contributes to urban runoff, sending pollutants and sediment into our waterways. Demolition and construction (C&D) waste ends up in landfills; according to EPA estimates, 136 million tons of building-related C&D waste was generated in a year in the United States.

With millions of commercial properties in the United States, the opportunities for green building — and for promoting sustainable practices — are vast.

And the benefits of sustainable commercial construction are just as notable. In addition to the obvious, and critical, environmental benefits of reducing energy consumption and waste and thereby slowing the pace of climate change, there are social and economic benefits to building sustainably.

Business owners who make a commitment to sustainable commercial construction are making a commitment to the health and quality of life of their employees and tenants.

They also show their customers, shareholders, and the community that they are ecologically responsible and thinking toward the future.

The economic benefits of green building in the commercial space are often debated, but analysis has shown that while high-performance buildings may cost more to construct than conventional buildings — because of the cost of some sustainable building materials and green-building consulting fees — they more than make up for those expenses in reduced energy and water bills and operations and maintenance costs.

Federal tax credits also exist for green building projects, and according to the Green Outlook Report published by McGraw-Hill Construction, the number of states with green building policies, standards, legislation, and programs increased from thirteen to thirty-one between 2005 and 2008.

Keep reading:

Part I: Sustainable commercial construction

Part III: Green certification and commercial buildings