Turner Construction Finds Companies Remain Committed to Green-building Practices

Turner Construction Co., a general and green builder in the U.S., has announced the results of a new Market Barometer survey that focused on environmentally sustainable, or “green,” building and on sustainable practices in general. Key findings revealed that companies remain committed to constructing green buildings. While executives remained committed to incorporating sustainable building practices into their building programs, fewer said their companies were likely to seek LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council when constructing a green building.

Among real-estate owners, developers and corporate owner-occupants, 64 percent said they expect to undertake new construction projects during the next 12 months (up from 46 percent in the 2010 survey), and 71 percent said they expect to undertake renovation projects over the same period (up from 58 percent in the 2010 survey).

Ninety percent of respondents said their companies were committed to environmentally sustainable practices. Of that percentage, 56 percent of executives said their companies were extremely or very committed to following environmentally sustainable practices in their operations, while an additional 34 percent said they were somewhat committed. In addition to citing financial reasons for this commitment, executives were most likely to cite broader considerations as extremely or very important including belief that it’s the ‘right thing to do,’ (68 percent), impact on brand/reputation (67 percent), and customer requirements (61 percent), along with cost savings (66%).

Executives were most likely to cite financial factors as being important to their companies’ decisions about whether to incorporate green features in a construction project. Respondents indicated energy efficiency (84 percent) and ongoing operations and maintenance costs (84 percent) were extremely or very important to their decisions.

More than two-thirds of executives also said that non-financial factors were extremely or very important, including indoor air quality (74 percent), health and well-being of occupants (74 percent), satisfaction of employees/occupants (69 percent) and employee productivity (67 percent). However, only 37 percent of executives said it was extremely or very important to their companies to minimize the carbon footprint of their buildings.

This suggests that the decision to incorporate green features is driven by a desire to reduce cost followed by an interest to improve the indoor environment for building occupants, rather than broader concerns about the impact of buildings on the global environment.

More than half of executives said their companies would be extremely or very likely to invest in improved indoor environmental quality (63 percent), improved water efficiency (57 percent), and green materials (53 percent) if they were undertaking a construction project.

Although the vast majority of companies remain committed to green buildings, 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 only 48 percent, down from 53 percent in the 2010 survey and 61 percent in the 2008 survey. Among executives who said their companies were not likely to seek LEED certification, the most important reasons cited were the cost of the certification process (82 percent), staff time required (79 percent), time required for the process (75 percent), and the overall perceived difficulty of the process (74 percent).

It is apparent that 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 checklist or a scorecard, as indicated by 52 percent of executives saying they were only somewhat or not likely to seek LEED certification when undertaking a construction project. At the same time, 41 percent of executives thought it was at least somewhat likely their companies would consider seeking certification under a rating system other than LEED if they constructed a green building. Of those executives who indicated they would consider another system, 63 percent said they would be extremely or very likely to consider seeking certification under Energy Star, which again highlights the importance of energy efficiency. It should be noted that building owners may elect to certify under more than one rating system.

When asked what length of payback period would be acceptable when considering green features, 44 percent of executives said they would accept five years and almost 80 percent of executives said they would accept a payback period of five years or longer. Despite the acceptance by most executives of an extended payback period, 61 percent of executives still felt the length of the payback period was an extremely or very significant obstacle to the construction of green buildings while 62 percent cited higher construction costs.

Turner Construction’s 2012 Green Building Market Barometer surveyed 718 executives in October 2012. The executives participating in the survey were from the following principal types 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 (3 percent), and broker/real estate service provider (2 percent), (These percentages total to more than 100 percent because some companies were involved in more than one industry segment.)

To view the full report, email Turner Construction.

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