Source: http://www.lexology.com, December 4, 2012
By: Elizabeth A. Holden, Hodgson Russ LLP
A new Market Barometer survey published by Turner Construction Company, the largest green builder in the United States, provides an updated look on sustainability practices in new building projects. The study, which included a survey of more than 700 executives from a wide variety of fields, showed a continued commitment to environmentally-sustainable construction practices but questioned their commitment to obtaining Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The survey results are the latest sign of concern with the LEED system.
Continued Commitment to Green Construction
Executives surveyed included those in the development field as well as real estate owners and corporate owner-occupants. Among those surveyed, 64 percent indicated that they expect to commence construction projects over the next twelve-month period—up from 46 percent in 2010. The number is even greater for renovation projects. Seventy-one percent of participants expected to start renovation projects over the same period. With regard to those construction projects, 56 percent of survey participants reported that their companies were either extremely or very committed to environmentally-sustainable practices. Another 34 percent stated that they were somewhat committed.
Factors Contributing to Continued Green Construction
Important factors contributing to continued use of green construction included the potential to reduce energy costs and operating and maintenance costs. Other factors included the impact such construction had on their brand/reputation, requirements from customers, and the belief that it was the “right thing to do”.
Commitment to LEED Certification Questioned
Although the majority of companies intend to use green building practices, the percentage of executives that thought it was extremely or very likely that they would seek LEED certification for their building projects was down to 48 percent from 53 percent in 2012 and 61 percent in 2008. Those respondents that stated that they would not likely seek LEED certification cited concerns regarding cost, staffing, and time required for the process and an overall sense that the process was difficult.
These results add to a troubled year for the LEED program. In March, the federal General Services Administration (GSA) issued a report indicating that a competing system, the Green Globes rating system, was a slightly better choice than LEED for new federal construction. Additionally, disputes over the next version of LEED, particularly involving the use of chemicals in building materials and the designation of certifying organizations for sustainable wood products, have resulted in the United States Green Building Council (LEED’s governing organization) delaying the release of LEED 2012, now renamed LEED v4.
The full Market Barometer survey may be found here.