Posts Tagged 'LEED'

Reports State that Building Green is Hitting a Record High

The worldwide economy may be struggling, but the demand for green buildings are at an all-time high, according to studies conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction (MGH) and Turner Construction.

Sustainability Dashboard Tools LLC CEO Stephen Ashkin credits this to the institutionalization of sustainability. This is precisely what the public demands: organizations that have an admirable policy on sustainability and make a deliberate effort to contribute to the lessening of environmental degradation. Organizations that report on their green efforts tend to have a more positive public perception. Because of the institutionalization of sustainability in corporate practices, corporations have taken it upon themselves to integrate it into their corporate practice.

But this is not the only reason why companies are keen on adopting green policies. The top reason is that a green building decreases building and operating costs.

Another reason is the increased productivity of employees, because of the improved indoor air quality (IAQ). The protection of building users also serve as a compelling reason for building owners to shift to green buildings. Askin states that “U.S. executives are no longer going Green just because they think it is the right thing to do. Today, the bread-and-butter issues like protecting [building user] health, enhanced worker productivity, and lowering operating costs, are center stage when it comes to why organizations want to be Green and more sustainable.”

From $10 billion in 2005, the worldwide growth of green building construction has escalated to $85 billion in just 7 years. This shows the mainstream appeal of green buildings in the construction industry. It might very well be the future of the entire industry.

The rising number of LEED certification, however, is going on the opposite direction, with corporations seeking LEED certification down from 61% in 2008 to less than 50% today. Does this mean that LEED is about to fade away? Probably not, according to Ashkin, as it will mostly likely remain as the standard as to whether or not a building deserves to be called a green building.

4 Reasons Why 2013 is the Best Year for You to Construct a Green Building

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Insulation inside a Norsteel building. Image Credit: Norsteel.

If you have not yet joined the rest of the world in putting up a green building, you can make that big step this year. There are four reasons why you should finally shift to erecting a green building this year:

1. The extra costs are worth it.
Sure, the construction phase of a green building might cost a little more than a site-built building. But in the long run, the operational and maintenance costs of a green building are significantly less than a regular building. Since a green building consumes less energy when heating and cooling, you do not have to worry as much about electricity expenses. Also, a green building requires less repair and servicing expenses.

2. You can green your existing building.
You do not have to go as far as bring down your entire building just to have a green building. Greening existing buildings has never been easier. In fact, LEED created a new category for it: the LEED for Existing Buildings Operation and Maintenance (LEED O+M). This is also the fastest growing category in the LEED Rating System.

3. There is an increasing number of new products for your green building.
Gone are the days when looking for materials for a green building that will require you to import from other countries or compete with other building owners for their limited supply. This year is marked by innovations in facility management, wireless control, building automation, and other new engineering materials that will make it virtually effortless to procure products for your green building. For example, Norsteel can help you green your building through accessories such as insulation to conserve heat.

4. Your government will most likely give you incentives.
If your government does not give you incentives for green buildings just yet, expect your lawmakers to have on their agenda. For example, under the administration of United States President re-elect Barack Obama, green buildings are given several tax incentives and credits which have encouraged building owners to make the shift. Many other countries have also followed suit.

Green Certification Can Increase a Building’s Real Estate Value

You will probably notice a common factor in the finest buildings in San Francisco: a plaque at the entrance proudly declaring its green certification status. In fact, no less than 35% of San Francisco’s commercial buildings are certified either by LEED or/and Energy Star.

But what is the value of a green certification, and why should all commercial buildings follow San Francisco’s building owners?

The answer is simple: a green label can boost a building’s real estate value. An extensive study conducted by property research firm Nils Kok showed that companies are actively seeking green buildings for their employees and are willing to pay more rent than buildings that are not certified. Green buildings also have a sale rate that is 16% higher than other buildings.

But the increased real estate value of buildings does not stop at commercial buildings. Even green residential buildings also stand to benefit in terms of increased real estate value, as proven by another study conducted by Nils Kok and Matthew Kahn of the ULCA Luskin School of Public Affairs utilizes statistics from 1.6 million houses in California. From 2007 to 2012, the two studied the price implications caused by three green certifications: Energy Star, LEED for Homes, and GreenPoint Rated.

The study found that a green certification can increase the value of a home by as much as 9% compared to an identical home without a label. An average sale price of a home in California is around $400,000 and a green certification can bring that value up by as much as $34,800!

The study also revealed that green buildings are virtually a must in areas that have hotter climates, because a primary consideration of residents in those areas is energy efficiency. Also, a green label is more common in areas where residents are more environmental aware, judging by their green policies and the popularity of green vehicles.

As more families are looking to own houses and the real estate market is booming, there is every reason why you should secure a green label for both commercial buildings and residential buildings if you want to make the most out of the sale.

Green Building for US Federal Construction Projects

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United States Department of the Treasury Washington, D.C. Image Credit: Florian Hirzinger via Wikipedia.

In 2009, President Obama spearheaded the movement to utilize green buildings for federal construction projects. This was a call not only to adjust to the nature’s demands but also to save energy and money. The initiative has since then inspired government agencies to take on different ways to obtain green designations, including using wind farms to generate energy, retrofitting courthouses, and using natural lighting and energy-conserving air-conditioning and heating systems.

One of the best recent examples of greening an old building is the US Treasury, which was built in 1836 and has recently been awarded the coveted LEED Gold certification after meeting several standards.

With its efforts, the US Treasury building has saved an estimated $3.5 million annually. The agency reported a 43% decrease in drinkable water use, a 7% decrease in the use of electricity, and an additional 164 work stations for more efficient use of space.

Some of the measures undertaken by the US Treasury that merited the Gold certification include:

  1. The use of natural daylight for decreased energy consumption
  2. The development of advanced heating ventilating and air conditioning systems
  3. The increase of occupant space utilization
  4. Proposing alternative means of transportation.

The federal government spends an estimated $7 billion a year on energy costs. By improving energy use and introducing energy efficiency measures, decreasing use of taxpayer money and increasing health of the workers in the building.

Currently, the General Services Administration (GSA) has a tool for identifying sustainability needs, the www.SFTool.gov, which allows the comparison of options for renovation projects. The site also allows the direct purchase of green building materials.

According to a study by the GSA of 22 green federal buildings, sustainably designed buildings outperformed commercial buildings in energy use. This definitely shows that commercial buildings have reason to ride the ‘green wave’—if only to increase their bottom line.

Building Owners Want Green Buildings but not LEED Certification

The global economy may be weak, but that is not stopping homeowners and commercial building owners from putting up green buildings.

At least 51%, of companies said that their buildings will be certified as green in 3 years or by 2015. That is a 28% increase from 2012 and a 13% increase from 2009.

The main motive behind going green is not so much the preservation of the environment but the financial advantages of going green. With smart windows and LED light bulbs among a few other innovations in the green construction, the case for green buildings has just gotten a lot stronger.

According to McGraw Hill Construction’s Harvey Bernstein, “It’s a business decision.” While the main reason for going green three years ago was to save the environment, the prevailing reason now is to improve health and productivity of the occupants, to lower operating costs, and to meet the demands of the market.

Another shift in attitude according to another report is the number of building owners applying for LEED certification—arguably the largest certification body on green construction. In a recent survey of corporate executives by Turner Construction, 90% were into green buildings for eco-friendliness, 84% were in it for lowering maintenance costs and 74% were primarily motivated for improvement of indoor air quality. And yet, the number of these executives looking to certify their projects with LEED is just 48%–in contrast to 2010’s 53% and 2008’s 61%.

This is because many construction firms and building owners no longer believe in the necessity of LEED. Citing the difficulty of the application process and the fact that the entire industry is starting to go green, the role of LEED in the industry may be shrinking.

Ironic as it may sound, LEED may be losing its relevance just when it starts to reach its goal—to increase the number of green buildings.

Companies Encourage Green Building, but not LEED Certification

1225 Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C., is the first redeveloped office building on the East Coast to receive LEED Platinum status. Image Source: Wikipedia.

With the construction industry setting goals and preparing plans for 2013, corporations and their executives are figuring out how to integrate sustainable building practices into their construction projects. A recent survey conducted by an NY-based construction firm, Turner Construction Co., looked at the motives for green buildings as well as the future plans of various companies. Conducted just last October, the survey was conducted among 718 executives and focused on emerging trends in green buildings.

One key finding is that companies still see the value in green buildings and continue to commit to planning and construction a green building for their organization. In fact, 90% of respondents said that they will continue to commit to sustainable green building practices. They say that green buildings pay off in terms of cost savings, brand impact, customer requirements, and simply because it’s the right thing to do.

However, the number of companies that are gunning for LEED certification has significantly dropped, with only 48% of the respondents planning to apply for LEED certification. The highest was at 61% in 2008 and 53% in 2010.

What is the primary reason for company executives’ seeming loss of interest in seeking certification? Several factors were cited, among which were the cost of the entire certification processes, labour and the general difficulty of the process.

With the introduction of LEED 4.0, the costs of the entire process will be even more expensive. The documentation requirements are indeed rigid and time-consuming. The entire procedure requires the expenditure of capital that could otherwise be used for improving the green building.

As for contractors who want to get certified, there is a recent technology that might prove to be helpful in the certification process: the LEED automation program, which integrates third-party technology platforms with LEED Online. But the question remains: is automation a solution that can cure all the aforementioned problems in the LEED certification process?

LEED is now a Worldwide Phenomenon

LEED Gold Logo. Image Credit: US Green Building Council.

From a rating system that was initially designed twelve years ago to improve energy efficiency and encourage the use of recycled materials ten years ago, the LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system has certainly come along way. Set to release its fourth version dubbed LEED V4, LEED has grown into a household name in green construction with around 14,044 certified commercial projects and 2 billion square feet of green space in 140 countries. The number is about to more than double with 34,601 more building projects underway.

The initiative has been followed by other countries and spurred the introduction of other rating systems such as Malaysia’s Green Building Index and China’s three-star-rating system. For an industrial sector that was virtually nonexistent years ago, the green building sector is about to become a $280 billion global industry.

With its fourth version, LEED will update its current rating system from its four-level system (from certified to platinum) into an altogether new system. LEED is set to release the proposed changes soon, and will be allowing proposed changes that member companies are free to comment on. The period for public comment will be until December 10, 2012.

Information previously released on the proposed changes has been the subject of debates by companies for or against them. The new changes include increased technical rigor for energy performance and the introduction of new categories aimed at integrated design, indoor air quality, life cycle analysis of materials, and so forth.

LEED spokeswoman Ashley Katz said, “In order for LEED to be relevant, it has to evolve. In 2000, people didn’t know what low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint was. Now it’s what everyone uses.”

True enough, LEED was originally concerned with energy efficiency but the rise of green buildings has also factored in the importance of its effects among employees, who noted improved concentration and productivity. Hospitals and universities have also been moving towards LEED standards, with the University of California (100 LEED-certified facilities) and Harvard (75 LEED-certified facilities) taking the lead on the university front.