Turner Construction: Owners sustain exodus from LEED certification

Sources: Turner Construction Co., New York City; CP staff

The 2012 Green Building Market Barometer survey from top gun general contractor Turner Construction finds that real estate owners, developers and corporate owner-occupants remain committed to sustainable practices, but are increasingly cool on costs associated with U.S. Green Building Council LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for projects.

The percentage of executives who thought it was extremely or very likely their companies would seek LEED certification for a green-geared building was 48 percent, down from 53 percent and 61 percent, respectively, in Turner’s 2010 and 2008 surveys. Key reasons among those who said their companies were not likely to seek certification were the cost and overall perceived difficulty of the process (82 percent and 74 pecent) and staff time required (79 percent).

In the last four years, many companies seem to have become more knowledgeable about the means and methods of designing and constructing green buildings, and are less reliant on LEED as a scorecard, Turner officials contend. As their interest in LEED certification wanes, 41 percent of executives surveyed thought it was at least somewhat likely their companies would consider seeking certification under a different rating system if they constructed a green building. Of those who might turn to LEED alternatives, 63 percent would be extremely or very likely to consider seeking certification under the Environmental Protection Agency-backed Energy Star—highlighting the importance of energy efficiency.

“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,” says Turner Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer Michael Deane. “While some respondents are relying on their own standards or considering another rating system, LEED certification remains the most widely used third-party verification of achievement that is recognized by consumers and that can be used to market and promote a property.”

Turner’s 2012 Green Building Market Barometer reflects findings from 718 executives surveyed in October. Respondents represented a cross section of companies: architecture (49 percent), construction (19 percent), real estate consulting (11 percent), corporate owner-occupant (9 percent), developer (9 percent), engineering (9 percent), real estate owners (7 percent), corporate tenant (3percent), and broker/real estate service provider (2 percent). The sum of percentages exceeds 100 as some companies span more than one industry segment. Requests for full survey results can be directed to [email protected].