LEED Investments Evaluated On An Architect’s Home Turf

July 19, 2017
 Dewberry HQ autocase cost benefit

Challenge: How can Dewberry cost-justify their green HQ renovation without any extra time or budget?

Dewberry’s 7-story, 87,400 square foot headquarters in Fairfax, VA was first built in 1981. Dewberry knew it was time to carve out resources to design and implement a renovation for their own building that would meet LEED standards and deliver a higher performing building.

While the LEED Credits guided sustainable strategies, the designers at Dewberry were equally interested in how those workplace and energy efficiency improvements would translate into dollars of return over the 30-year lifespan of the project. However, the project’s design
staff was already extremely busy.

How would they find the additional time to collect the data and perform the economic analysis that would accurately account for all the hard and soft dollar benefits of the renovation in present terms?

Solution: Autocase software automates the business case for LEED

Dewberry used Autocase software from Impact Infrastructure, to conduct ”Triple Bottom Line (TBL)-Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA)” on seven LEED credit categories to compare against a baseline building. Almost like an “economist in a box”, Autocase simplified and automated the delivery of full lifecycle costs, the social and environmental impacts, and the dollar value of those impacts for each LEED renovation area:

  • Energy Performance
  • Indoor Water Use Reduction
  • Daylighting
  • Quality Views Interior Lighting – Controls
  • Low Emitting Materials
  • Outdoor Air Delivery Monitoring
  • Construction Indoor Air Quality Management Plan
  • Construction Waste Management

Results: Quantifying the benefits for all stakeholders in under half an hour

With just the input of the same data required for LEED credit submission, Dewberry designers used Autocase to calculate the net present value (NPV) of bene ts for Dewberry and its employees, as well as for society and the environment as a whole. The below table is an example of the kind of reports that can be automatically generated by Autocase software.

For Dewberry, it was a reassuring result. The net financial benefit alone for Dewberry was $19.98/square foot, far outweighing the incremental sustainable investment of $6.81/square foot.

Adding in the societal and environmental bene ts delivered a total benefit of $30.66/ square foot, such that for every $1 invested in LEED-compliant upgrades, $5.50 of value was generated for all stakeholders.

With Autocase, Dewberry benefitted from:

  • Expert economic analysis without the need for additional expertise in-house
  • A view of benefits beyond the project owner to include society and the planet
  • Confidence in a business case backed by credible data
  • Flexibility to prioritize renovation design elements based on overall benefit.

Dewberry has since embraced Autocase for use on client projects where the need for a fuller business case justification has grown in response to the accelerating and increasingly mainstream demand for higher performing buildings. 

Autocase is a software tool that models the environmental and social dollar values of green infrastructure designs and, together with financial costs, evaluates their net, triple bottom line (TBL) benefit over the life of a project using a rigorous cost-benefit analysis (CBA) framework.

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