A survey released last week by the World Business Council on Sustainable Development found that key players in real estate and construction overstate the extra costs of green buildings by some 300 percent, "creating a major barrier to more energy efficiency in the building sector."

Respondents to the 1,400-person global survey co-chaired by United Technologies and Lafarge, both global companies heavily in the building sector -- estimated the additional cost of building green at 17 percent above conventional construction, more than triple the true cost difference of about 5 percent. At least, that's what the WBCSD's press release told us, and what most news organizations dutifully reported. The study itself told us something else: It's not just the money, honey.

Building green turns out to be an overly complex proposition, with a fragmented value chain and a confounding lack of integration and coordination among the various players. Moreover, the study found, incentives to reduce energy use usually are split among these players "and not matched to those who can save the most through energy efficiency."


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