By means of green building, consumers can benefit financially as insurers offer discounts on insurance coverage for green building. The process of building this way is environmentally responsible. Eco-friendly construction is putting up structures that are beneficial for the environment. They are resource-efficient. Local and renewable materials are used. The construction thereof is energy-efficient.
Buildings often have a negative impact on our environment and our natural resources. Responsible insurance carriers are happy to reward clients with discounted insurance coverage. Negative aspects of energy waste include transporting materials hundreds or thousands of miles to building sites. Poorly designed buildings emit hazardous chemicals. These chemicals are trapped inside the buildings affecting the health of the occupants.
Good building practice includes rammed earth construction. This involves clay-based materials mixed with water. This is rammed into a solid wall form. Straw is a great insulator and bales of straw are used as the central structure of the house. When compressed, straw is fire-resistant.
Other positive features are:
The use of solar panels for water heating; the collection of rainwater for garden use and the re-use of grey water; low energy light bulbs; cellulose insulation; lead-free paint; locally grown and harvested timber from sustainably managed forests.
Green building projects are increasing in popularity. Between 2008 and 2010, green building projects increased by 50%. They are projected to top $135 billion by 2015. Owners of green buildings see higher property values. Little changes are insulating water pipes. Bigger changes are installing solar panels and alternative water systems.
The return on investing in green building techniques now goes beyond good feelings and lower utility bills. Green buildings may have more upfront costs than conventional but also have a lower overall risk. Eco-friendly construction reduces risk and energy efficiency raises a building’s economic value. Instead of costing building owners more to insure new and complicated green additions, insurance rates actually decrease for green buildings and improvements. Green buildings are safer and more resilient than conventional buildings, resulting in lower overall risk to insure.
Instead of costing building owners more to insure new and complicated green additions, insurance rates actually decrease for green buildings and improvements. Discounts on green insurance products are justified by safety data linking reduced emissions with accident and damage mitigating behaviour. Green buildings are safer and more resilient than conventional buildings, resulting in lower overall risk to insure.
There are generally two types of insurance offered for green building. The first, offered to conventional building owners, is a green-rebuild policy. A 2-3% increase in premium (covering higher up-front costs of green materials) guarantees that, in case of a loss, a conventional building will be rebuilt to green standards. Another policy type, offered to owners of already-green buildings, insures existing green modifications against loss.
After years of inertia, the $16 trillion industry has begun to address climate change with mandatory risk disclosures and more products to help businesses and individuals reduce energy use. In March, insurance regulators adopted mandatory climate-risk disclosure standards for insurance companies with annual premiums of $500 million or more. These standards require the firms to report to regulators and investors the types of payout risks they may face due to climate change.
Insurance for green building are rapidly gaining traction in the marketplace. The first commercial green policy was offered by Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. in 2006. Now several large companies offer insurance coverage for green building. By 2009 over 22 companies offered 39 insurance products related to green building.
In the case of a loss, Fireman’s Fund Green Certification covers a rebuild to one level higher than pre-loss certification level and offers broad coverage of alternative green technology including vegetated roofs and underground water recycling systems.
Policyholders with Energy Star buildings are also eligible for a 5% discount. Fireman’s Fund also covers lost tax incentives and utility discounts and, when losses exceed $10, 000, pays for a commissioning agent to oversee repairs and verify replacements.
Travellers Insurance Company provides an add-on Green Home Upgrade to its current policies and gives a 5% discount for homes already LEED certified. Small businesses also qualify for additional green enhancements up to 5% of the total los
Although there are benefits to “going green” in the construction, development and operation of buildings, there are also risks unique to green building that will test the boundaries of coverage under typical liability insurance policies.
In light of the relatively new nature of green construction, below are some of the issues one could expect will have to be litigated. Part of the appeal of green building is its self-sustaining nature, and there are few better examples of those types of measures than vegetative roofing and alternative power and water systems.