The question of cost comes up when discussing any form of change, whether it be automobiles, cell phones or better buildings. Throughout history, humans have bettered their life through innovation, delivering better products for less money, yet a pervasive assumption persists in the construction sector that improvements to building efficiency, durability, resilience or health will negatively impact affordability. The opposite is in fact true, yet the assumption continues in many circles.
To address this assumption, I have frequently been asked for costing studies to demonstrate the affordability of highly energy efficient new buildings. The “better costs more” narrative assumes, for example, that energy efficiency requires adding stuff to buildings, thereby increasing cost, rather than designing them differently to achieve better outcomes. This article is written to provide a response to those concerned about the cost of climate and people friendly new buildings.