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Building in Good Faith - Green Building Resource for Religious Institutions

Understanding Green Building Costs:
Life-Cycle Analysis and Assessment (LCA) of Building Green

The Concept of "Worthy Expense"

Not all decisions you make about green investments in your project can be fully understood only in terms of financial costs and savings. Costs and benefits can be measured in measures other than money.

Particularly for religious institutions, this is where the role of values in assigning "worth" of an expense comes in. In the Your Project is a Process section we wrote about establishing a mission statement for your project that would help you clarify ways in which it--and its green aspects--would both align with and help you to fulfill your core organizational mission. As you make the many decisions any building project requires, such a mission statement will help you to make those decisions in ways that are consistent with your values and which reflect your institution’s goals for your building project.

An obvious example of a green expense that does not pay for itself in solely financial terms is the use of non-toxic paints in your project, especially in any spaces that would be used by children, such as classrooms. These paints are more costly than conventional paints, but studies have shown that they release less noxious chemical fumes that regular paints, and thus help create better indoor air quality. As of yet, there are not ways to measure the financial benefits of using these paints. However, making such an investment in the health of the children of your community would be a "worthy expense" even if it did not result in operational savings over time.

Be aware also that there may be fund-raising opportunities for such worthy expenses, as donors are often most attracted to those aspects of a project that further the core mission or values of the organization they support.

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