Survey: Companies committed to green building, but not to LEED certification

New York -- Companies remain committed to constructing green buildings, according to a survey by Turner Construction Co. The company’s 2012 Green Building Market Barometer found that while executives remained committed to incorporating sustainable building practices into their building programs, fewer said their companies were likely to seek LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council when constructing a green building.

Only 48% of the surveyed executives thought it was extremely or very likely that their company would seek LEED certification if they constructed a green, down from 53% in the 2010 survey and 61% 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%), and the overall perceived difficulty of the process (74%). Of those executives who indicated they would consider another system, 63% said they would be extremely or very likely to consider seeking certification under Energy Star, which highlights the importance of energy efficiency.
The executives cited energy efficiency (84%) and ongoing operations and maintenance expenses (85%) as the key drivers to green construction. 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. This suggests, according to the survey, that the decision to incorporate green features is driven by a desire to reduce cost followed by an interest to improve the indoor environment for building occupants, rather than broader concerns about the impact of buildings on the global environment.

"Energy efficiency figures prominently in the decision-making process of green building primarily because of its large economic impact," said Michael Deane, VP and chief sustainability officer at Turner Construction. “Water efficiency in green construction was seen as less important. This is in spite of a growing awareness that water is a finite resource, both in its operational use and its role in the production of goods and materials. While the direct economic impact of water efficiency is less than the savings on energy, its environmental impact is quite significant.”

Ninety percent of respondents said their companies were committed to environmentally-sustainable practices. Of that percentage, 56% of executives said their companies were extremely or very committed to following environmentally sustainable practices in their operations, while an additional 34% said they were somewhat committed.

Among real estate owners, developers, and corporate owner-occupants, 64% said they expect to undertake new construction projects over the next 12 months (up from 46% in the 2010 survey), and 71% said they expect to undertake renovation projects over the same period (up from 58% in the 2010 survey).

The executives participating in the survey were from the following principal types of companies: architecture (49%), construction (19%), real estate consulting (11%), corporate owner-occupant (9%), developer (9%), engineering (9%), real estate owners (7%), corporate tenant (3%), and broker/real estate service provider (2%), (These percentages total to more than 100% since some companies were involved in more than one industry segment.)