Green building has had its ups and downs lately. Many professionals complain about the USGBC’s LEED standards, ranging from it’s too expensive and difficult to get certification to it does not truly result in sustainability. The number of projects in the LEED pipeline has reportedly stagnated lately. Some have talked about putting out new competing standards or simpler ones that will gain interest from more building owners.
But green building and LEED are here – at least for now. Here are some trends that have been reported to occur in 2011 and likely to continue into 2012.
- The Economy – With the real estate industry and new building construction still stagnant, the focus of green building has shifted to the greening of existing buildings. Owners of existing buildings believe that there is “more bang for the buck” of upgrades to meet LEED requirements with a payback in terms of raising revenues (rents) and property values.
- Recognition of water issues. Given the growth in extreme weather events in the last few years, there is growing awareness of the issue of flooding and stormwater control, which can be addressed by green roofs and rainwater recovery systems. In some parts of the U.S., there is a growing fear of water shortages. Therefore, water conservation technologies will grow in popularity.
- Outdoing conventional energy savings. To make a splash and to respond to rising energy prices, more building owners are considering alternative energy, not just wind turbines and solar cells, but geothermal and aquifer air temperature control systems, too. If appropriate, designed right and with the right incentives (government and utility), such a technology can reduce energy bills substantially, a major cost for tenants and make the “green” buildings very competitive.
- Performance, not design. Given the investment in smart technologies and design, it is important to demonstrate that these systems actually work in real time as advertised and designed. It is not enough to just purchase an advanced technology. Commissioning and other testing is needed and insisted on to demonstrate that it is actually performing as assumed. The USGBC and other entities are waking up to the need for continual superior performance.
- Government buildings – Governments are becoming one of the biggest segments for green buildings, ranging from the US Army in Afghanistan to the federal government making a bona fide effort to build new or refurbish to LEED standards, as practical, to a growing number of school systems retrofitting “green” for the health and well being of students and teachers. A growing number of local government policies mandate “green” initiatives in new govt buildings.
CCES and our experts can help your company assess the worthiness of potential green building projects for your existing and new buildings with a proper gaps analysis.