While commissioning providers may not perceive commissioning as off-the-radar, perhaps providers, commissioning associations and certifying agencies should be considering initiatives to increase public awareness.
There is perhaps no greater growth opportunity for commissioning than increased building owner awareness of its value. (MW)
Gap Between Green Construction and LEED Certification Grows
The Fourth Annual Green Building Survey by California-based Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP; Irvine, Calif.-basedConstructive Technologies Group; and the Green Building Insider reveals surprising results regarding green construction. The survey, which was completed by more than 1,600 design and construction professionals from across the nation, addressed current attitudes toward green building, its risks, costs, certification processes and trends.
Despite the recession, the survey found a surprisingly large majority of respondents continue to strongly endorse green building (96 percent in 2007, 93.5 percent in 2008 and 92.3 percent in 2009). At the same time, support for LEED certification slipped 11 percent in 2008 and 4.7 percent in 2009 to 62 percent.
Cost is a major driver for green building in this economic downturn with the gap between support for green construction and LEED certification growing during the past two years. Nonetheless, the level of support for LEED certification remains high. Although the recession challenged the volume of green construction, it pushed projects to look for financial advantages: Saving energy and other operating expenses was the number one reason for building green projects.
Green building is perceived to have greater construction risks than non-green construction, despite the fact that LEED-mandated building tests known as commissioning actually reduce the risk of building system failure. According to the survey, the top strategies to reduce the risks of green building are
- Retaining green consultants
- Measurement and re-commissioning
- Periodic testing
- Contractual risk shifting
More than half of all respondents indicated that a LEED Gold rating increased project costs by 4 percent or more, while nearly 30 percent of respondents reported the costs of LEED Gold rating at significantly lower than 4 percent. Possible explanations for the difference in reported cost premiums include
- The variety of local codes and professional experience in certain regions that raise the minimum standards close to LEED Gold standards
- The varying degree of difficulty in achieving a LEED Gold rating on different building types, such as hotels vs. office buildings
The purchase of carbon offsets, which is largely voluntary today, hovered near 7 percent. "We do not expect a significant change in carbon offsets unless mandatory carbon mitigation programs are adopted at the state or federal level," says Bryan Jackson, chair of Allen Matkins' Green and Sustainable Construction Practice Group; adjunct professor at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, teaching green and sustainable construction; and editor of the Green Building Update.
"As in previous years, our green survey provides an excellent barometer of opinions regarding the importance, risks and costs relative to the green building industry," Jackson notes. "The survey, which covers the fastest-growing sector of construction, is one of the broadest surveys of green-building professionals in the industry.”