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LEED Losing Its Appeal, Survey Finds

Only 48 percent of construction and real estate executives think it is extremely or very likely that their company will seek LEED certification, down from 53 percent in 2010 survey and 61 percent in 2008, according to Turner Construction Company’s latest Market Barometer survey.

But the green-building company’s survey shows that 90 percent of these executives say their companies are committed to environmentally sustainable practices.

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 percent), staff time required (79 percent), time required for the process (75 percent), and the overall perceived difficulty of the process (74 percent).

Turner says this shows that companies are increasingly knowledgeable about how to design and construct a green building, and are less reliant on LEED as a checklist or scorecard.

Turner’s 2012 Green Building Market Barometer surveyed 718 executives in October. The executives participating in the survey were from the following types of companies: architecture (49 percent), construction (19 percent), real estate consulting (11 percent), corporate owner-occupant (9 percent), developer (9 percent), engineering (9 percent), real estate owners (7 percent), corporate tenant (3 percent), and broker/real estate service provider (2 percent), These percentages total to more than 100 percent because some companies were involved in more than one industry segment.

Of the 90 percent of respondents who said they are committed to environmentally sustainable practices, 56 percent said their companies were extremely or very committed, while an additional 34 percent said they were somewhat committed.

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 said energy efficiency (84 percent) and ongoing operations and maintenance costs (84 percent) were extremely or very important to their decisions.

The next most popular considerations included the belief that green building is the “right thing to do,” (68 percent), impact on brand/reputation (67 percent), customer requirements (61 percent) and cost savings (66 percent).

However, only 37 percent of executives said it was extremely or very important to their companies to minimize the carbon footprint of their buildings.

Turner says this suggests that the decision to incorporate sustainable features is driven by a desire to reduce cost, rather than broader concerns about the impact of buildings on the global environment.

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5 thoughts on “LEED Losing Its Appeal, Survey Finds

  1. I think the key comment in this article is: “Turner says this shows that companies are increasingly knowledgeable about how to design and construct a green building, and are less reliant on LEED as a checklist or scorecard.”

    While LEED isn’t going away, I think more companies are realizing that it isn’t a “magic bullet” and isn’t the complete solution. Without proper attention and smart operations and maintenance after occupancy begins, even the best-designed LEED Platinum buildings can turn into “energy hogs”. I’m hopeful that more building owners are recognizing this and working to prevent it.

  2. Matt- I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been on both sides of the equation where I’ve seen project held to task from a green perspective by the LEED framework that might not have gone that far otherwise, and seen the projects that are green on their own chasing points to get to some level of LEED that really doesn’t seem worth it.

    What is interesting to me in this article is how much it points out the fact that the pure hassle or “overall perceived difficulty of the process” comes out as such a high driver. While this hassle keeps consultants busy (myself included, full disclosure), the hassle factor is not only off-putting but also leads to projects having to meet such technically rigid categories that sometimes the forest is missed for the trees. I am a believer in the vetting process and update process LEED enjoys; with so much attention it will continue to get better and more effective with every revision, but if it could also become more flexible and user-friendly I think there would be at least a continuous rather than declining uptake.

  3. The facts are the economy, look at the dates as they went down from 2008 & 2010. There has been a over abundance available and now the economy is turning around and certified will go up. One interest complain I see here is the hours of staff involvement. YES, if they are not involved then like any project will go south, for it is suppose to be a culture change. If the owner is serious and there is no real commitment than evrything goes backward. And who knows, maybe we have met a flat spot until the cost of natural gas starts rising again.

  4. Great words Matt. I would also suggest that more and more, building owners are recognizing the human element of buildings as the leading cause of energy consumption, and there are no LEED points for retrofitting humans!

  5. Iain,

    Actually many studies have shown — and ASHRAE teaches — that the operations improvements of a building have the greatest impact on reducing energy, costs and greenhouse gases overall.

    It is why existing building commissioning has some of the greatest potential of making tremendous inroads on building energy usage in the shortest amount of time and no one knows about it. Most buildings can save 10-30% of its energy with little or no cost and paybacks of two years or less just by tuning up the buildings.

    You are correct that behavior is a close *second* component of an overall energy efficiency strategy and cannot be ignored. But operations are number one.

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