Contractors Clamor for LEED Alternatives

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Turner Construction‘s 2014 Green Building Market Barometer shows that interest in alternative green building rating systems is up  a massive 250% in two years.

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The US Green Building Council‘s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification program has been the de facto standard in building certification since the middle of the last decade. From 1994 to 2006, LEED has grown from one standard for new construction to a comprehensive system of interrelated standards covering all aspects of the development and construction process. New standards for existing buildings and other expansions have expanded it across every phase of design and construction and every building type.

The Washington, DC-based USGBC is an NGO that produces LEED and has become the most important voice in the green building field, presenting the annual Greenbuild Conference as well as lobbying Washington and local municipalities to get LEED written into building code or at least to reward developers who get the certification.

LEED is not without its detractors, however.  New Urbanists and others claim the system does not take advantage of new building technology, awards points for inefficiency in some cases and can result in buildings that don’t live up to the hype.

General contractors have long held that it does not reward enough points for innovation in the construction process.  It’s unsurprising that their interest in Green Globes or other alternative rating systems is so high.

The Turner study goes on to state that “the financial factors most highly rated in the decision-making process to incorporate green features in construction projects were energy efficiency, asking rents, ongoing operations and maintenance costs, and occupancy rates.”

Additionally, the study said “attention to benefits on employees and occupants is increasing; recognizing the importance of an organization’s reputation for sustainability in its ability to attract and retain talented employees, employee hiring/retention” was rated as extremely or very important by 62% of executives, up from 49% in the 2012 survey.”

It would appear that construction professionals want a more holistic approach to the design and construction process, as well as attention paid to what happens to a building after handover to an owner.

The US construction sector added 39,000 jobs in January 2015 and construction contractors have increased employment by 308,000 during the past year, reaching the highest employment total since February 2009, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America. Let’s hope the industry is growing the right way.

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