pcba/SENTRY

Green Support Remains, LEED Interest Slips

Posted by pcbasentry on February 25, 2009

Reprinted from GlobeSt.com

EXCLUSIVE Last updated: February 25, 2009 06:21am
Green Support Remains, LEED Interest Slips
By Bob Howard
LOS ANGELES-The commercial real estate and construction industries continue to overwhelmingly support green building, but support for official LEED certification has slipped in a new survey. The third annual Annual Allen Matkins/CTG/Green Building Insider Green Building Survey shows that 93.4% of those surveyed agreed that it is worth the time and effort to build green, but only 66.2% believe that obtaining LEED certification is worth the effort. To view the survey, click here.

Among the other findings in the survey were that designers, owners and contractors have differing views on the risks involved in green construction and different ideas on whether green construction adds to the cost of projects. The annual survey included responses from 900 design professionals, contractors, subcontractors, construction planners, building owners and others in the industry.

Bryan Jackson, chair of the green building and sustainable construction group at the Los Angeles office of the law firm of Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis, tells GlobeSt.com that the survey authors were surprised to find that willingness to obtain LEED certification had slipped from 76% in the previous year’s survey, although he adds that this year’s 66.2% is still a very high percentage in favor of certification.

Jackson points out that the USGBC “is probably already ahead of the curve in trying to recapture that 10% drop.” He says that the primary reasons for the decline in willingness to obtain LEED certification have to do with competition from other certification agencies, newly enacted green building regulations and concerns over carbon footprints. Results of the new survey show that, while some of these regulations require LEED certification, the majority do not favor a specific rating system. In addition, many of the new regulations focus on greenhouse gases and carbon impacts that LEED has only indirectly addressed.

But Jackson says that new LEED requirements being introduced this year include a “carbon overlay” that should bring many of the survey respondents back into the fold with respect to LEED certification. Another change in the new LEED requirements is that the certification process takes into account regional differences, which should also help the LEED process to regain some of its lost adherents, he says.

The survey showed that contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers, building owners, attorneys and consultants felt that construction risks increased for green projects compared with traditional projects. Jackson says that he and other Allen Matkins attorneys who specialize in construction law “are telling everyone, including our competition, that we all need to raise the bar” in terms of making sure to address green building and sustainability implications in construction contracts, leases, design agreements other legal documents. “When people draft contracts without addressing these issues, you have fights about who is responsible. We want everyone involved to be as educated as possible so that we can write contracts in a way that will avoid litigation down the road,” Jackson says.

Another practice that helps to avoid problems down the road, Jackson adds, is the growing use of Building Information Modeling, which employs computer-aided design to produce three-dimensional models of projects for incorporating green design elements from the very start of and throughout a project. Although many of those surveyed estimate that green construction adds between 1% and 4% to the cost of a project, those who use BIM “say that if you design for green and sustainable elements from the very beginning, you will be able to come out with a project in that could certify to Green, LEED, Gold or Silver without spending any more than conventional construction, which is pretty amazing,” Jackson says.

Jackson, who is an adjunct professor of green and sustainable construction at USC, and who is editor of the weekly Green Building Update, notes that the survey results are becoming more reliable each year as the green building movement gains momentum. He explains that those being surveyed now have significantly more experience in green building than they had when the survey began three years ago.

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