Words like “green construction” and “LEED construction” have been buzzing around the construction industry for quite some time now and have gained major ground in recent years. The idea of lower construction and maintenance costs, and smaller carbon footprint have become very attractive options. The problem facing this movement, is that the terms are broad in meaning, and therefore ambiguous in application.

If someone wants to implement green construction methods on a project, it’s sometimes hard to know where to start. There are plenty of green construction methods out there, but not every method will be applicable to every project. The trick to a successful green construction project is to find the right methods for each project that make sense economically and ecologically.

Here are three big factors that will affect the ROI of green construction-

Materials- Almost everything used in standard construction has a green alternative. Some are fine substitutes, but a lot are just not practical. One common way to go green in construction is the choice of utilities. Using a device like a variable refrigerant flow HVAC system instead of a standard heat pump split system might lower operation costs and require less energy to run.

Rebates- Although initial buying cost might be higher for some green materials, there are a lot of rebate programs out there that may lower the final costs of materials. Using LED lights, for example, is a great way to cash in on some big savings. Cities, states, local utility providers, and even the federal government all have different rebate programs you can easily qualify for with the right green construction method.

Attractiveness- If the structure will be rented out by tenants, the biggest question you need to ask is, “what will potential tenants care about?” Odds are they won’t care about energy efficiency or maintenance costs, because those costs are fairly negligible as a tenant. However, if you can take the money saved by using green construction, and use those savings on extra amenities, you’ll probably see some good ROI.