Is Your Green Project Worth It?

September 22, 2008

How do you determine if a green project you are considering is worth it?  There are so many things to consider – the up front costs, savings over time, rebates and tax credits, and the savings to the environment.

A tool is available to help assess the financial costs and benefits of several green projects. provides an ROI (return on investment) table that lists the added costs, annual savings, projected savings over 10 or 20 years, and the ROI for a given improvement.  Improvements include Tune-Ups (small projects or changes that can be made to green up a home or building), Remodeling, and Advanced (larger projects or decisions for a new building).

An example of a Tune-Up project is installing an Energy Star approved programmable thermostat.  The average cost is $115.00.  The projected annual savings is $180.00, yielding an ROI of 156.5% and a payback of 0.6 years.

One of the Remodeling projects is to replace windows with Energy Star Low-E windows.  According to the GreenandSave Remodeling Table: the payback time in years is 2.3, the added cost is $700.00, the annual savings is $300.00, ten year savings is $3,000.00, and the ROI is 42.9%.

Advanced projects include doubling the insulation factor (R-value) of the exterior walls from R-19 to R-30.  The added cost for this improvement is listed as $900.00, annual savings of $120.00, ROI of 13.3%, and a payback of 7.5 years.

While the costs and savings may vary according to the area of the country or world a project is located in, this tool certainly gives an owner some hard data to use to when making a decision on whether to pursue a project or not.  Some projects, such as adding a programmable thermostat, pay for themselves quickly, so they become almost “no-brainers.”  Others, like the added insulation example above, require more thought.  Tools like’s ROI table give owners the data they need to make an educated choice.



Dawn Killough

has over 15 years experience in the construction industry and is the author of Green Building Design 101, an e-book available from Amazon. She is a LEED AP and Certified Green Building Advisor, and has worked on the LEED Certification of three projects in Salem, Oregon.