12 November 2012 – GreenBuild 2012, San Francisco. According to a survey of the US construction green building sector green is still good but companies increasingly want to follow their own internal processes rather than apply for formal US LEED sustainability certification.

And when it comes to energy efficiency the biggest driver is saving money, plus improving indoor air and the sense of well-being for occupants. Water efficiency might have strong environmental implications but it’s low on the “must do” list.

These results, from a bi-annual survey by GreenBuild exhibitor Turner Constructions of nearly 718 architects, developers, builders and related property companies, are an interesting insight into the progression of the green building movement. Anecdotal evidence suggests the trends are shadowed to some extent on the Australian property scene.

Turner Construction’s vice president and chief sustainability officer Michael Deane said the company’s bi-annual Market Barometer Survey, which focused on green building products, revealed that “companies remain committed to constructing green buildings, but fewer executives said their companies were likely to seek LEED certification when constructing a green building, citing the cost and difficulty of the LEED certification process”.

The percentage of executives who thought it was extremely or very likely that their company would seek LEED certification if they constructed a Green building was 48 per cent, down from 53 per cent in the 2010 survey and 61 per cent in 2008.

Reasons included cost of LEEDS (82 per cent), staff time required (79 per cent), time required for the process (75 per cent), and the overall perceived difficulty of the process (74 per cent).

“We’ve seen from our own work and the continuing growth of the green building market, that in spite of this reduction in enthusiasm for LEED certification, respondents are still building green,” Mr Deane said.

Respondents indicated that energy efficiency (84 per cent) and ongoing operations and maintenance costs (84 per cent) were extremely or very important to their decisions.

Michael Deane

Non-financial factors were also extremely or very important with respondents citing indoor air quality as in this category (74 per cent), health and well-being of occupants (74 per cent), and satisfaction of employees/occupants (69 per cent).

Only 37 per cent of executives cited their carbon footprint as highly important.

“Energy efficiency figures prominently in the decision-making process of Green building primarily because of its large economic impact,” Mr Deane said.

“Water efficiency in Green construction was seen as less important.  This is despite a growing awareness that water  is a finite resource, both in its operational use and its role in the production of goods and materials.

“While the direct economic impact of water efficiency is less than the savings on energy, its environmental impact is quite significant.”

In terms of environmentally-sustainable practices the commitment is strong: 84 per cent of respondents said their companies were committed to environmentally-sustainable practices, with 56 of that number saying their companies were “extremely or very committed”.

Only 33 per cent said they were “somewhat committed”.

A desire to foster the “greater good” came into the financial equation with 68 per cent of executives saying it was “the right thing to do” 67 per cent citing impact on brand/reputation, 61 per cent on customer requirements and 66 per cent on cost savings.

The report said development activity was expected to grow in the next 12 months by 64 per cent of respondents, up from 46 per cent in 2010, and 71 per cent expected more renovation activity, up from 58 per cent in 2010.