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Two new studies by McGraw-Hill Construction (MGH) and one study by Turner Construction, both international building contractors, indicate the demand for Green buildings is increasing even with a struggling worldwide economy. Further, according to one of the MGH studies, 81 percent of U.S. executives now believe the public expects them to “institutionalize” sustainability.
According to Stephen Ashkin, CEO of Sustainability Dashboard Tools LLC, this “institutionalizing” of sustainability is very significant.
“The public now expects organizations to focus on sustainability, report on their efforts, and reduce their impacts,” says Ashkin. “This means sustainability is now becoming an essential part of how business is conducted and part of the corporate culture.”
The results of the studies were released in January 2013. According to Ashkin, other key findings in the contractors’ studies included:
• The top reason for implementing green projects, such as building and operating green facilities, is costs. “Organizations now realize that becoming more sustainable typically translates into lower operating costs,” says Ashkin.
• Green building construction has grown dramatically from $10 billion in 2005 to an estimated $85 billion in 2012; expectations are that green construction will double by 2016.
• The number of U.S. firms seeking LEED certification has declined from 61 percent in 2008 to less than 50 percent today; however, Ashkin believes that LEED will remain the de facto standard for defining a green building and “serve as the roadmap for whether or not a building is ultimately certified.”
• Health-related factors, most specifically improved indoor air quality (IAQ), were cited as among the benefits of a green building. Properly maintained green buildings with healthy IAQ typically enhance worker productivity, among other benefits.
“What I found especially interesting is that the studies indicate U.S. executives are no longer going green just because they think it is the right thing to do,” says Ashkin. “Today, the bread-and-butter issues like protecting health, enhanced worker productivity, and lowering operating costs, are center stage when it comes to why organizations want to be green and more sustainable.”