ConstructionPro Week, Volume: 2 - Issue: 22 - 05/31/2013

Statistics Suggest that It Pays to Get Buildings Certified as Green

By Steve Rizer


It pays to obtain green certification for buildings, according to information that Triple Green Building Group LLC Principal Kelly Gearhart provided during “Green Standards -- LEED, BREEAM, DGNB and Others,” a WPL Publishing webinar for which a recording recently was added to the ConstructionPro Network ( Download Library -- free of charge for members. Going green through the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen e.V. (DGNB) rating systems all have their reported benefits, she said.


“Operating costs drop by [approximately] 13.6 percent for [new commercial] buildings that have achieved LEED certification, [and] the value of [such a] building rises by 10.9 percent [see figure below]. The return on investment improves by 9.9 percent,” Gearhart told a target audience of architects, engineers, public and private owners, developers, construction managers, contractors, subcontractors, consultants, facility and property managers, and others, citing USGBC estimates.


Gearhart further reported that “BREEAM projects boast 21 percent higher rents, 18 percent increases in building value, and improved occupant health and productivity.


In addition, according to a report entitled “Additional Costs of Certified Buildings,” the construction-cost premium for DGNB-certified buildings totals only about 0-4 percent, Gearhart said. “And that 0-4 percent cost increase for DGNB-certified buildings is pretty close in line to what LEED says [0-7 percent], and that takes projects up into the Gold level of certification.”



Gearhart stressed that certification costs differ based on multiple variables, such as whether the party pursuing certification becomes a member of the organization whose rating system is being used.


Citing research conducted by USGBC, McGraw-Hill, and others, Gearhart told webinar attendees that by 2015, an estimated 40-48 percent of new non-residential construction by value will be green, equating to a $120-145 billion opportunity.


“So, this means there will be plenty of new construction starts that will be going in this direction,” Gearhart said. “This data comes from research that’s been done to assess state and local government and federal government requirements and how they are applied to new construction projects. So, throughout California, for example, we have a program called Calgreen, [which] is requiring minimum levels of performance and integrating many of the pieces that we see in green standards like LEED, like Build It Green, right into the building code.”


In terms of growth, “it’s estimated that the green building market -- but actually, it’s demonstrated -- included 2 percent of non-residential construction starts in 2005,” Gearhart reported. “That figure moved to 12 percent in 2008 and grew to 28-35 percent in 2010, so we’re seeing … growth over the last 10 years and hope to continue to see that growth.”


Regarding the market for green building standards and their use, “areas with the greatest proportion of green office buildings relative to the total stock of buildings in the market are markets like Washington, D.C.; Oregon; Vermont; Washington; Colorado; Massachusetts; Maine; New Hampshire; Illinois; and California. So, we see it growing in all parts of the industry,” Gearhart said. “So, we see there’s opportunity. We see there’s growth. We see there are quite a few tools to choose from.”


For immediate access to the complete webinar (full audio and visual) -- as well as more than two dozen other construction-related webinars that are available for download -- sign up to become a member of WPL Publishing’s ConstructionPro Network, a complete training, education, and development resource for the construction industry, at



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