Could LEED Be Losing the Lead in Energy Certifications?

March 3, 2009

Building Green Remains Strong, but LEED Popularity Slips

In the race for being certified as a ‘green’ building, LEED has been the certification of choice thus far, but some are not feeling so eager to obtain certification any more.

While the majority of builders and building owners support building green, the popularity of LEED certification has slipped a bit according to a recent survey conducted by Allen Matkins/CTG/Green Building Insider. The consensus from 900 design professionals, contractors, constructions planners and building owners was that 93.4% agreed that it is worth the time and effort to build green, but only 66.2% believe that obtaining LEED certification is worth the effort.

Has LEED lost the lead in the green building certification race?

While 66.2% still shows that the majority of people believe LEED is a worthwhile certification, the popularity is down from 76% the previous year. Why the decline? Some of the primary reasons for the decline in willingness to obtain LEED certification could have to do with competition from other certification agencies, newly enacted green building regulations and concerns over carbon footprints. More attention is now being focused on greenhouse gases and carbon impacts which LEED has only indirectly addressed. But the USGBC is taking action and adapting it’s LEED rating system to these new requirements. New LEED requirements being introduced this year include a “carbon overlay” that should bring many of the survey respondents back into the fold with respect to LEED certification.

Green Building Concerns

Among the other findings in the survey were that designers, owners and contractors have differing views on the risks involved in green construction and different ideas on whether green construction adds to the cost of projects. The survey showed that contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers, building owners, attorneys and consultants felt that construction risks increased for green projects compared with traditional projects.

The growing use of Building Information Modeling, which employs computer-aided design to produce three-dimensional models of projects for incorporating green design elements from the very start of and throughout a project could help to resolve this issue. Although many of those surveyed estimate that green construction adds between 1% and 4% to the cost of a project, those who use BIM say “that if you design for green and sustainable elements from the very beginning, you will be able to come out with a project that could certify to Green, LEED, Gold or Silver without spending any more than conventional construction, which is pretty amazing,”says Bryan Jackson, chair of the green building and sustainable construction group at the Los Angeles office of the law firm of Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis.

This news about LEED shouldn’t alarm any of the current buildings with this certification. It just shows the progress that’s being made in the ‘green’ economy and how certifications are adapting to the credentials that people are looking for the most in our transition to a more sustainable lifestyle.


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