Kermit the frog might not have had an easy time being green, but these days companies that go green are finding that the benefits sometimes outweigh the costs. In other words, green can beget green. Permit me to explain.

A recent article described the experience of Toyota Motors (NYSE:TM), which recently built an environmentally friendly campus in Torrance, Calif. The 624,000 square feet on 40 acres feature, among other things:

  • Ninety-five percent of the materials were recycled, including "more than 250 miles of reinforced steel reclaimed from Camrys, Corollas, and other recycled automobiles."

  • It has 53,000 square feet of rooftop solar energy systems.

  • The architectural touches, such as outside-facing stairwells with big windows, encourage employees to take the stairs instead of elevators.

There are many studies supporting such construction. The article noted:

  • "The California Energy Commission found that call-center workers processed calls 6% to 12% faster when they had views to the outside, compared with workers without a view. They also performed 10% to 25% better on tests of mental function and memory recall compared with their 'shut-in' co-workers."

  • The Herschong Mahone Group consultancy found that retail locations with skylights reaped 40% higher sales than stores without skylights. It also studied elementary-school students, finding that "Students who had the most daylight in their classrooms progressed 20% faster on math tests and 26% faster on reading tests compared with students who had the least daylight."

  • Perhaps most compelling for corporations and building planners who need to focus on dollars, California's Sustainable Building Task Force has determined that an extra 2% spent on building a green building results in, on average, in a saving of 20% of the total construction cost. In other words, you eventually get back 10 times your outlay.

  • Some studies have reported worker productivity gains as high as 16% in green buildings. For Toyota, which spends $140 million on payroll at that campus, a 10% productivity gain would amount to a whopping $14 million. Even a 1% boost would top $1 million in savings.

  • Property values are also often significantly boosted by green features added to buildings.

With these kinds of results, it's hard to argue for any buildings that aren't environmentally friendly. Other firms that have been building green include biotech concern Genzyme (NASDAQ:GENZ) and Ford Motor (NYSE:F). One firm looking into what it can do to save money via green buildings is none other than little old Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT).

If you're interested in learning more about green buildings, visit the website of the U.S. Green Building Council at Here are some articles on corporations and social responsibility:

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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Wal-Mart, and her parents drive a Toyota .