Posts Tagged ‘USGBC’

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.

AIA Edges Closer to USGBC Standards for Green Buildings

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

It costs more than $100,000 to fill out LEED certified.  Could the AIA offer a better way?  It’s surprising that the AIA still does not endorse LEED standards for green buildings.  There has been some progress in forming some kind of strategic alliance, but that is only in the area of advocacy, education and research.  There is still nothing concrete.  Nevertheless, the Architecture 2030 Bulletin and the AIA 2030 Commitment story are very interesting. The AIA website has many downloadable forms that comprise their own version of building performance measurement.  It’s likely that the AIA will step up to form their own rating system to compete with the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), which is a very lucrative non-profit organization that the government chose to use for their own needs to employ green strategies — and when the government chooses a program, everyone else follows.

I hope the AIA will offer an alternative form of measurement to the USGBC.  The USGBC’s process requires too many consultants and specialty firms to work independently on hundreds of credit applications.  Ideally, the architect and his/her engineering consultants should be able to perform all of the analysis as part of their basic services.  As of now, we get huge additional fee requests for the architect/engineers to help fill out LEED forms, and separate fee requests for energy models, LEED consulting, and commissioning services.  It costs more than $100,000 in miscellaneous fees just to fill out and upload credit point applications.  Many think that $100,000 could be used to improve the building’s performance.

Half of Commercial Buildings Could Go Green by 2015

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Going green in new and renovation projects is not as expensive as previously thought.  By 2015, green buildings could constitute approximately half of all commercial space, according to a study by Good Energies, Inc., a New York venture capital firm.  Although sustainable initiatives were perceived as a niche market just 10 years ago, developers now realize that going green in new and renovation projects is not as expensive as previously thought.

According to Greg Kats, senior director of climate change for New York-based Green Energies and the study’s author, he applied the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy Environmental Design standards – which encompass such categories as energy and water use, site location, landscaping and proximity to mass transit and shopping – to define what qualifies as a green building.  LEED certification was not required, though buildings had to adhere to the standards.

Similarly, a McGraw-Hill Construction study released last October found that the share of the green retrofit market could grow to 20 or 30 percent over the next five years.  That translates to market opportunities for major projects totaling $10.1 to $15.1 billion.  At present, green building practices are incorporated into five to nine percent of building retrofits.  The market opportunity for major projects – those costing more than $1 million – could total as much as $2.1 to $3.7 billion a year.

“We now have a large enough, detailed enough body of data to say that the presumption is ‘why wouldn’t you do a green building?'” Kats noted.  “It’s very cost-effective and it reduces risk in a number of areas including health, exposure to energy and water prices and obsolescence.”

Make Green Buildings Grow

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Buildings four stories and higher use 65 percent of electricity generated in the United States, according to a recent article on the website

Several states – notably California – are requiring all new government buildings to qualify for green certification.  Additionally, California is looking at the possibility of granting preferences to private building owners that are environmentally friendly when renewing leases with government agencies.

“All the people in the L.A. region want to come to my place to work,” said Peter Cho, chief engineer of the futuristic California Department of Transportation regional headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.  The 13-story green building, which occupies an entire city block, is attracting people with its sleek horizontal architecture, abundant natural lighting and healthier indoor air.

The building incorporates one monolithic solar-panel wall, which makes it 35 percent more energy-efficient than California state building codes require.  Another environmentally friendly element is the elevators that are programmed to skip two floors at a time to encourage building occupants to use the stairs.

Not unexpectedly, getting companies to build green is not easy.  According to the United States Green Building Council’s Lance Williams, “There is resistance to anything new, especially if it requires people to invest in something new or to believe in something new.  But there are people being converted…every single day.”

For their part, commercial building owners believe it is more effective to have direct financial incentives for going green.  Government’s green-building programs help in this way, and the Building Owners and Managers Association International is lobbying Congress to extend tax incentives to retrofit buildings to conserve energy.