Article Date: 02/08/2013

Growing Share of Survey Respondents Say They Have Worked on at Least One LEED Project that Ultimately Did Not Get Certified

By Steve Rizer


A growing percentage of construction professionals responding to ConstructionPro Week’s (CPW) questions about their experiences with green buildings are reporting they have worked on a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) project that ultimately was not certified.


More than one-quarter (25.9 percent) of all architects, engineers, owners, contractors, and others responding to the Green Building Survey that CPW recently conducted indicated that at some point in their careers they had participated in a LEED project that did not garner certification. In CPW’s first Green Building Survey in late 2011, only 15.3 percent of respondents reported having worked on such a project.


In the recent follow-up survey, about two-thirds (64.2 percent) of respondents stated that they had never participated in a LEED project that failed to obtain LEED certification, while the remaining 9.9 percent of respondents indicated that they did not know the eventual fate of their LEED projects. In 2011, these figures totaled 76.3 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively.


And what were the repercussions of those projects that did not gain LEED certification? Respondents participating in the latest survey provided a wide variety of answers to this question, including the following:

  • “We did not receive the anticipated rebates.” -- David Craven, director of facilities for the Oklahoma Public School District


  • “The owner saved a lot of money that would have gone to USGBC [the U.S. Green Building Council].” -- Robert Matschulat, an architect


  • “The local contracting office refused to enforce the inspection reports for LEED items as well as for general construction quality, resulting in a facility that is poorly finished and not certifiable.” -- William R. Cadle, an architect at Command Architect HQ, Air Force Reserve Command, Robins Air Force Base, Ga.
  • “The customer withheld 10 percent of the construction costs from the contractor when the building failed to meet LEED criteria.” -- John Kiefer, an engineer for E3 Building Sciences


  • “No repercussions. The owner did not want to incur the additional costs to get a ‘certificate.’ [The owner] still built to the standard [but] just didn’t want to pay any more than he had to.” – Robert Klob, an architect who is president of Robert Klob Designs


  • “The original intents were not realized, and ultimately the owner -- in this case, a municipality -- will pay more over the long run for a building that could have had lower operating costs. They did not understand that (at that time in 2007) a little bit more money up front [would have equaled] huge cost savings over the lifetime of the building -- a missed opportunity.” -- Valerie J. Amor, an architect who serves as the chief executive officer of Drawing Conclusions LLC

For the 2013 Green Building Survey, conducted via email during the first week of February, CPW invited more than 150,000 professionals across the construction community to participate, using the same contact lists that it used for the original survey.


The survey also sought answers to these and other questions:

  • How many projects does your company/organization intend to participate in this year that are expected to become LEED certified?
  • What do you believe are the chances that sometime over the course of this year your company/organization will end up in a dispute involving some facet of green building/green construction?
  • How prepared are you for addressing a legal dispute involving your company’s/organization’s green building work over the next year?
  • To what extent do you believe you are aware of the potential risks that can afflict a green building/green construction project that your organization/company could undertake?
  • What is the best way for your company to bolster its understanding of the potential risks associated with green building/green construction projects?
  • What is the best way for public officials and/or the construction industry to maximize financial benefits and minimize potential risks of green building/green construction?

Results from these and other survey questions are available to ConstructionPro Network members. To join ConstructionPro Network, click here.



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