Green Building and Site Development

Yesterdays Transportation in Hawaii
Yesterdays Transportation in Hawaii © 2006 – 2016 Christopher Smith

Green Building and Site Development

Christopher Smith

March 25, 2014


            There is a misconception that sustainable green building as LEED certified buildings would increase capital cost and risk in such an undertaking. Although there is added cost to Green building for LEED certification. Many of the cost can be obtained back from the overall efficiency of the building. Green building technology can help to reduce emissions and add to the overall worker productivity.

Costs of Green Building

            The cost determination of Green Building is looked at a higher initial cost to the purchaser of the property and construction. The reason has to do with new technology and associated labor to provide the service. Project planning also contributes to the cost of LEED certification because of the added documentation and monitoring of the project.

            According to Montoya, M.  Evaluating Cost Implications of Green Building (2011), One basic assumption of the GSA report is that the buildings are located in Washington, DC, where the cost of construction averages around 5% lower than the national average. The GSA report indicates that the cost of completing a building that is LEED certified is on the order of 1% greater than the cost of completing a traditional building. A LEED Gold level certification was reported to indicate that the cost would be on the order of 8% greater” (Montoya, M., 2011, p. 23).

            These costs are often offset by the overall efficiency of the building. Less electricity is used to run the normal operations of the building. With fewer utility bills, more money is saved through the life cycle of the building. Many times the building also can attract a higher rental fee of the building. Many times businesses have shown green building to have improved productivity from employees. According to Vista window film  (2014), “Companies that voluntarily adopt green practices and standards have employees who are up to 16% more productive” (Study 1).

Site Selection and Development

            Using a polluted site for green building development can add something to the community, which is currently inaccessible by the public. With the use of bioremediation technologies, a site could be cleaned up or neutralized to make the site usable for development. Hawai’i has a few areas that would be good candidates for green development and alternative energy. Locally in Hawai’i the use of phytoremediation helps to remove pollutants from soil and groundwater. The According to Hawaii University  (2014), “Remediation also occurs when bacteria on the roots of the plant degrade pollutant species, or when the roots draw contaminated ground moisture closer to the surface, exposing contaminant species to microbes in a higher oxygen-containing environment” (Phytoremediation). In a study performed at Hickam Air Force Base, Honolulu, Hawaii it was found that three trees were good candidates for such a project. kiawe, milo, and kou were able to withstand 10 g diesel fuel/kg with a 1% salinity treatment (Sun WH, Lo JB, Robert FM, Ray C, Tang CS.,  (2004)). This is very promising for the area, during World War II many areas was contaminated from fuel transportation and refineries for the military. By allowing Phytoremediation on site to process the land for development, Hawai’i could also reduce the heat relationship seen on parts of the island. A reduction of hydrocarbon released into the environment and air would help to reestablish the natural rain forest that has been lost from over development and pollution. Once the land property has been decomposed the contaminant’s construction of the building could happen. Implementing green building technology in Hawai’i could show the benefit of this construction.

             With green building technology, Hawai’i can maximize both financial and environmental performance with benefits that could help eliminate the waste leaked into the streams, conserve natural resources, and enhance the air quality. One example where this technology could encourage restructuring in thought would be in Waikiki. Waikiki is the tourist section of Honolulu; millions of people visit every year with over a hundred thousand individuals live in the city. A man made canal that wraps around Waikiki is so polluted the state has stopped testing, added contributions to not test also comes from cutbacks in funding. Most of the contaminants that have found their way into the canal come from the upland properties. Leaking sewage and chemicals find their way in the stream, down the mountain and into Waikiki. According to Cocke  (2014), the health department’s Gill said, “When you are talking about thousands of individual property owners who are contributing to the overall degradation of the canal, who do you want me to fine (The Problem Is Us)?” Green building could address these issues in an effort to support community health and activities in and near the Ala Wai, by reducing the ecosystem disturbance.

Sustainable Transportation Planning

            Sustainable Transportation encompasses more than just riding a bike or car-pooling, although they bring a good start. Hawai’i for years has been trying to determine on the best way to reconstruct a failing infrastructure due to lack of planning. The streets are full of cars, many sidewalks do not exist, and bicyclist shares narrow sidewalks with pedestrians on foot. I have been part of the team in trying to decide what’s best for my area, overall a design called Complete Streets gives us the tools to make real change for the environment and safety. The Complete streets project is an island wide effort to come together with the state and county through legislators and neighborhood board members to develop a plan that will allow for the needed parking, traffic flow, pedestrian traffic, and bicyclist to have there own way of travel. The purpose is to develop other forms of transportation besides automobiles; there will also have carpool lanes in the busier districts. Every corner of Oahu will look the same and have the same structure for the public. According to Hawaii Clean energy initiative  (2014), “The Complete Streets program has shown to encourage walking and biking, lower driving speeds yet shortening travel time, and strengthen the community’s economy by increasing land value in the area” (para. 2). With the newly designed street parking garages and other facilities would be built into the design. The structure would also house plugin charging with preferred parking for electric cars to decrease oil dependency. The efficiency of such a plan would make a huge disturbance reduction on the impact toward the ecosystem. Keeping the construction to developed areas would also eliminate some of the risks to the environment found in construction.


In conclusion, Implementing green building technology in Hawai’i would help start a development process to restoring the tropical rainforest. By using less energy and recycled materials for construction, the load on the environment would be considerably less while maintaining societies needs. The cost determination of not to build green or to build green shows the long-term investment will yield a higher profit margin and productive community or business. Topping off the project with Complete Streets will help to improve the traffic situation in Honolulu while providing more alternatives to safe transportation.




Cocke, S. (2014). Ala Wai Canal: oversight is as murky as the water. Retrieved from

Hawaii Clean energy initiative. (2014). Honolulu clean cities. Retrieved from

Hawaii University. (2014).Bioremediation technologies</. Retrieved from

Montoya, M.. (2011). Evaluating Cost Implications of Green Building. Retrieved from Montoya, M., SUS350 website.

Sun WH, Lo JB, Robert FM, Ray C, Tang CS.,  (2004). Phytoremediation of petroleum hydrocarbons in tropical coastal soils. Retrieved from

Vista window film. (2014). Top five studies linking green building to</productivity</. Retrieved from


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