Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering Management


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Charles A. Bleckmann, PhD


Buildings are one of the largest consumers of natural resources, a major source of ecological pollution, and occasionally toxic to human health. Sustainable design is the common term associated with buildings which, during their construction, use, and eventual disposal, seek to minimize their negative impact on the environment and human health. The U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system helps to assess a building's sustainability level. In the Federal Government's push to set the example for the rest of the nation, nearly every Federal Agency has chosen to adopt the LEED assessment tool. Each of the Armed Services in the Department of Defense (DoD) has set ambitious LEED certification goals. Despite their stated goals and the clear environmental and health benefits of LEED, a common concern is that LEED-designed buildings are simply too costly to construct. However, many proponents profess that LEED-designed buildings shouldn't cost significantly more than conventionally designed and constructed buildings and that the operational life-cycle cost savings rapidly compensate for any additional initial costs. Unfortunately, no comprehensive studies on initial construction costs have been performed in the DoD. Therefore, it continues to be the primary source of unit-level resistance to LEED and sustainable design. This research gathered historical cost data from 22 completed Federal construction projects and used statistical analysis to explore whether a business case could be made to support LEED using initial construction costs in the DoD. Results from the analysis were mixed. Hypothesis testing deemed there was no statistical difference in cost between LEED and conventionally designed facility construction. While on average LEED buildings were only 1.9% more expensive to construct than conventional facilities, the 9.2% standard deviation made it difficult to make a favorable business case. (94 refs.)

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