Monday, November 26, 2012
The Green Stamp of Approval
As for commerical projects, I am big on Net Zero and a more limited but given the current climate - literally and figureatively - a big advocate for the Living Building Challlenge. With the idea that storms and other potential interferences to the grid have long term affects on living and working, there is something attractive about a building that produces and uses its own energy, including food. Imagine a Living Building in New Jersey right now with geothermal heating, compostable toilets, alternative energy sources such as solar and a garden available. Sounds like Nirvana right? That said, its a large scale type of endevor but the Living Building Challenge people seem up to the challenge and would welcome more opportunities to put it to the test.
As for the other Certification programs, the dominant is LEED. Again the ubiquitious non profit acronym that both lobbies and in turn takes Government money, via tax credits to encourage their program's use, while also charging inordinate fees to the cost of building; LEED has become a spec plan vs optional concept when frankly building smart, energy efficient buildings should not be an option.
I read the Construction Law Blog's thoughts on the matter and the article below from Eco Home that discusses many of the same concerns I have expressed with regards to cost and overall actual performance that results from adding a bike rack to gain "stars."
Green Building Study Reveals Widespread Commitment to Sustainable Practices
Turner Construction survey finds fewer companies are likely to seek LEED certification.
By Jennifer Goodman
A new study released in advance of the 2012 Greenbuild Conference and Expo has found that while companies remain committed to constructing green buildings, fewer are likely to seek LEED certification.
Ninety percent of real estate owners, developers, and corporate owner-occupants surveyed said their companies were committed to environmentally sustainable practices. Of that percentage, 56 percent of executives said their companies were extremely or very committed to following environmentally sustainable practices in their operations, while an additional 34 percent said they were somewhat committed. In addition to citing financial reasons for this commitment, executives were most likely to cite broader considerations as extremely or very important including:
--belief that it's the 'right thing to do' (68%)
--impact on brand/reputation (67%)
--cost savings (66%)
--customer requirements (61%)
Executives were most likely to cite financial factors as being important to their companies' decisions on whether to incorporate green features in a construction project. Respondents indicated that energy efficiency (84%), and ongoing operations and maintenance costs (84%) were extremely or very important to their decisions.
More than two-thirds of executives also said that non-financial factors were extremely or very important including indoor air quality (74%), health and well-being of occupants (74%), satisfaction of employees/occupants (69%), and employee productivity (67%). However, only 37% of executives said it was extremely or very important to their companies to minimize the carbon footprint of their buildings.
Although the vast majority of companies remain committed to sustainable construction, the percentage of executives who thought it was extremely or very likely that their company would seek LEED certification if they constructed a green building was 48 percent, down from 53 percent in the 2010 survey and 61 percent in the 2008 survey. Among executives who said their companies were not likely to seek LEED certification, the most important reasons cited were:
--the cost of the certification process (82%)
--staff time required (79%)
--time required for the process (75%)
--the overall perceived difficulty of the process (74%)
At the same time, 41 percent of executives thought it was at least somewhat likely that their companies would consider seeking certification under a rating system other than LEED if they constructed a green building. Of those executives who indicated they would consider another system, 63 percent said they would be extremely or very likely to consider seeking certification under Energy Star.
We've seen from our own work and the continuing growth of the green building market that in spite of this reduction in enthusiasm for LEED certification, respondents are still building green," says Michael Deane, vice president and chief sustainability officer at Turner Construction. "While some respondents are relying on their own standards or are considering another rating system, LEED certification remains the most widely used third-party verification of achievement that is recognized by consumers and that can be used to market and promote a property."