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Turner Construction Co., a leading general builder and green builder in the U.S., announced the results of a new Market Barometer survey that focused on green building and sustainable practices, in general. Key findings revealed that companies remain committed to constructing green buildings. 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 (https://new.usgbc.org/USGBC) when constructing an environmentally sustainable building.
Of those surveyed, 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).
Overall, 90% of respondents said their companies were committed to environmentally sustainable practices. In addition to citing financial reasons for this commitment, executives were most likely to cite broader considerations as extremely or very important including belief that it's the 'right thing to do,' (68%), impact on brand/reputation (67%), and customer requirements (61%), along with cost savings (66%). Respondents indicated that energy efficiency (84%) and ongoing operations and maintenance costs (84%) were extremely or very important to their decisions.
Besides the financialsMore 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 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.
Also note, water efficiency is seen as less important as energy efficiency by those surveyed. “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,” said Michael Deane, vice president and chief sustainability officer at Turner Construction. “While the direct economic impact of water efficiency is less than the savings on energy, its environmental impact is quite significant.”
Fewer companies seeking LEED certificationAlthough the vast majority of companies remain committed to green buildings, the percentage of executives who thought it was extremely or very likely that their company would seek LEED certification if they constructed a green building was only 48%, down from 53% in the 2010 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%).
It is apparent that in the last four years many companies seem to have become more knowledgeable about the means and methods of designing and constructing green buildings and are less reliant on LEED as a checklist or a scorecard, as indicated by 52% of executives saying that they were only somewhat or not likely to seek LEED certification when undertaking a construction project. At the same time, 41% of executives thought it was at least somewhat likely that their companies would consider seeking certification under a rating system other than LEED, such as ENERGY STAR. It should be noted that building owners may elect to certify under more than one rating system.
“We've seen from our own work and the continuing growth of the green building market that in spite of this reduction in enthusiasm for LEED certification, respondents are still building green,” said Deane. “While some respondents are relying on their own standards or are considering another rating system, LEED certification remains the most widely used third-party verification of achievement that is recognized by consumers and that can be used to market and promote a property.”
Construction costs and the length of the payback periodWhen asked what length of payback period would be acceptable when considering green features, 44% of executives said they would accept five years and almost 80% of executives said they would accept a payback period of five years or longer. Despite the acceptance by most executives of an extended payback period, 61% of executives still felt that the length of the payback period was an extremely or very significant obstacle to the construction of green buildings while 62% cited higher construction costs.
About the SurveyTurner's 2012 Green Building Market Barometer surveyed 718 executives in October 2012. 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.)
Source: Turner Construction Co.