Posts Tagged ‘United States Green Building Council’

Green Construction Comprises One-Third of All U.S. Projects

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Green buildings now one-third of all construction. Although construction in the United States has been slow since the financial meltdown of 2008, there is one niche segment that is thriving – green construction.  According to McGraw-Hill Construction, green buildings now comprise one-third of all new construction, an increase of two percent over 2005, a surprise in an industry that is historically slow to change.

A case in point is the new Silver LEED-certified Ross School of Business building at the University of Michigan.  The environmentally friendly building incorporates technologies such as dual-flush toilets, which use 0.8 gallons of water instead of 1.6 gallons.  Firm in the knowledge that LEED certification is worth the money, the University of Michigan is now committed to going green on all new construction projects that cost $10 million or more.

Terry Alexander, Executive Director of the university’s Office for Campus Sustainability, notes that the added cost of LEED certification is actually a small percentage.  Because the university already saves energy and water in its new buildings, the extra cost on a $100 million Silver LEED project would be just two percent.  That includes the hard cost of eco-friendly features as well as soft costs for the paperwork required to achieve LEED certification.  Alexander says that Michigan is confident that the LEED plaque sends a message about the university’s environmental priorities and that it increases the school’s prestige with students and employees.

It’s Easy Being Green

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Buildings as old as 100 years now can attain coveted LEED certification, courtesy of the innovative LEED Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) program.  According to an article in the April, 2008, issue of Midwest Real Estate News, green design has become a given in commercial construction.  Now, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) has extended the designation to older buildings, as well as new.

Because the current commercial inventory includes so much existing product – more space is in existence than is anticipated to be delivered over the next 20 years — the USGBC is promoting its LEED-EB designation as a primary initiative.  “Between now and 2030, it is estimated that there will be 150 billion SF of existing space in the U.S. and 450 billion SF worldwide,” said Hill Burgess, a director at Darien, IL-based Wight and Company.  “There is a bigger shoeprint of existing space.”

Achieving LEED-EB status requires updating obsolete energy-management systems; using earth-friendly cleaning supplies; relying on natural daylight as much as possible; adding bike racks to encourage low-impact commutes; and replacing florescent lighting fixtures with more efficient, cleaner substitutes.  The road to green with existing space requires altering practices rather than making structural or design improvements.  Achieving LEED-EB status also involves an ongoing commitment by the company to continuing the process.

Additionally, cleaning company or waste-management services may need to alter their routines to comply with LEED ethics.  Because relatively few building owners are presently applying for this accreditation, vendors tend to lack incentive to make the necessary changes.

According to Mark Bettin, Vice President of Engineering at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, “Sub-metering of electrical use is one of the most important pieces of the process to enable large, older buildings to gain LEED-EB certification.  By breaking down energy consumption to an individual scale, tenants can see how their energy use affects the building as a whole.

“Sub-metering is important because it will allow tenants to see the results of energy use,” Bettin said.  “A lot of buildings have master meters that don’t break down individual use.”