Green building is a driving force in the U.S. economy. LEED certified more than 1.3 million square feet worth of projects per day in the U.S. in 2017, and is just one of the growing number of councils administering green building standards.*
Calls from inside and outside the construction industry for more sustainable spaces have spurred the incredible rise of these standards, and they only seem to be picking up speed. Green building has clearly captured imaginations in the industry and the public at large, and is set to contribute $30 billion dollars to U.S. gross domestic product this year.
What is Green Building?
A building is considered green when it’s environmentally responsible throughout the entire building lifecycle.
The goal of green building, of course, is to reduce the impact on the world it’s built on. For a project to be truly green, it’s critical that everyone involved in constructing or using the building, including the client, the architect, the engineer, the contractor and the occupants, make effective choices. Of particular importance is the efficient use of resources and the reduction of environmental impact.
In addition to the environmental considerations, there’s a business case to be made for green standards, including the reduced operating costs associated with green buildings. LEED, operating under the USGBC and Green Building Certification Inc. (GBCI), for example, has been taking off, and its impact is being felt by the global construction industry, with 1.6 million registered or certified residential units across 147 countries – not to mention the 2.2 million square feet of building space certified to LEED every day.
This is due to the multiple advantages that owners are deriving from their LEED certified structures. Savings are coming from lower operating costs, while occupants are experiencing better indoor environmental qualities, leading to higher building values and more revenue.
LEED Commercial Interiors is another option that brings the advantages of the certification to tenant improvements of new and existing spaces. This is supplying occupants with a healthy and productive place to work and reducing the environmental footprint of that workplace with a program that brings LEED benefits to everyone involved.
Occupant-Centric Standards on the Rise
Occupant-centric standards have been gaining speed. The success of the WELL Building Standard (WELL), which is focused around providing for the health and comfort of human occupants directly instead of just the most efficient environmental systems, represents the culmination of those interests.
These are critical for any building project to pay attention to, and green building standards are making these interests codified and measurable.
There are a number of other standards making waves in various industries. In addition to WELL and LEED, others under GBCI include:
- EDGE-focuses on making buildings more resource efficient
- GRESB-looks at real estate and infrastructure assets
- PARKSMART-for parking structures
- PEER-for power systems
- SITES-for sites and landscapes
A Greener Industry
Standards like these are making construction a greener industry and are providing heavy incentives for doing so on all levels of the project. Certification is increasing the rates at which potential occupants are:
- Signing up for leases
- Driving up the prices of those leases
- Decreasing costs of buildings over their lifespan
- Increasing the value of the buildings themselves for sale and resale
Green building is a concept with a lot of money in it, which is why LEED and others are proving so lucrative and popular over time. If you’re not diving in, the only question is what are you waiting for?
Frances Graham is a project director in Linesight’s New York office and a sustainability specialist. She’s a registered architect, LEED certified, and provides project management services for the commercial sector. Linesight is a global construction consultancy that provides independent cost management and general consultancy services to the U.S.. construction industry. *Resources: USGBC.org.
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