Green Building is Trending Up But Will LEED Follow?

Green building has expanded exponentially, skyrocketing from $10 billion in 2005 to an estimated $85 billion in 2012. Its double-digit growth trend is expected to continue, with recent expectations forecasting the green building industry to exceed $200 billion by 2016.

As more and more U.S. firms strive to reduce both their carbon footprints and their energy costs, it would be reasonable to anticipate a corresponding growth in certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program. Yet, this may not be the case.

According to Turner Construction's Green Building Market Barometer 2012, 56% of executives surveyed said their companies were extremely or very committed to following environmentally sustainable practices in their operations, and an additional 34% were somewhat committed. In addition, 81% of executives indicated their companies would be extremely or very likely to invest in energy efficiency improvements. Yet, only 48% thought it was extremely or very likely that their companies would seek LEED certification if they constructed a green building – down from 53% in 2010 and 61% in 2008.

Reasons cited for not seeking LEED certification included the cost of certification, staff time required, time required for the process and the overall perceived difficulty of the process. In addition, many companies are becoming more knowledgeable about how to design and construct green buildings, and are developing their own green building standards. Others are choosing to use alternative green building rating systems in place of the LEED process.

From a global perspective, LEED is still the leader in green ratings systems. Yet, as green building becomes more commonplace, the need for such systems could eventually become obsolete. Time will tell if the LEED program will continue to evolve with the needs of the industry, or one day become a historic footnote in the movement toward a greener future.

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