Buildings are responsible for an enormous amount of national energy use, resource consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. As the demand for more sustainable building options increases, green construction is becoming increasingly profitable and desirable within the U.S. construction market.
As members of the U.S. Green Building Council, our team at AMS Contractors recognizes that thoughtful and efficient design and construction not only have a positive impact on our environment, but also on the lifecycle cost of a structure—saving our clients money and preserving resources well into the future. Mandy Melton (pictured left), AMS' assistant project manager, has completed the USGBC's training and has become a LEED Accredited Professional.
We thought we would share with you some of the many ways that green building can impact you and your business (data courtesy of the U.S. Green Building Council):
What is LEED? Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Green Building Rating System™ encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through the creation and implementation of universally understood and accepted tools and performance criteria.
LEED is a third-party certification program and the nationally-accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
Buildings account for almost 40% of national CO2 emissions and out-consume both the industrial and transportation sectors, but LEED-certified buildings have 34% lower CO2 emissions, consume 25% less energy and 11 percent less water, and have diverted more than 80 million tons of waste from landfills. The market is responding to these cost savings and environmental benefits at a dramatic rate; this year, 40-to-48% of new, nonresidential construction projects will be considered green.
Green building is cost-effective
Upfront investment in green building makes properties more valuable, with an average expected increase in value of four percent. By virtue of lowered maintenance and energy costs the return on investment from green building is rapid: green retrofit projects are generally expected to pay for themselves in just seven years.
Green buildings reduce day-to-day costs year-over-year. LEED buildings report almost 20% lower maintenance costs than typical commercial buildings, and green building retrofit projects typically decrease operation costs by almost 10% in just one year.
The benefits of green building are expanding the market and breaking records
Interest in green building is growing rapidly. The sector made up only two percent of nonresidential building starts in 2005, but by 2012, that number jumped to 41%. Now it’s estimated that40-to-48% of new nonresidential construction will be green, representing up to $145 billion.
As of August 2015, more than 13.8 billion square feet of building space is LEED-certified. More than 675 million square feet of real estate space became LEED-certified in 2014, representing a 13.2% jump from 2013. The green building market is poised to break this record again in 2016 with LEED-certification being reported as a top sustainable goal for both public and private organizations.
Extending beyond new construction, green building is accessible through retrofit projects. The green share of these projects is expected to more than triple by 2030, representing an investment of $960 billion.
LEED buildings perform better and are internationally acclaimed
LEED is the international standard of excellence in green building, with more than 72,500 LEED projects in over 150 countries as of August 2015.
LEED projects are getting results across the board, scoring an average ENERGY STAR score of 89 points out of a possible 100. In a study of 7,100 certified construction projects, more than 90% were improving energy performance by at least 10%.
Green buildings use natural resources efficiently, lowering both utility bills and impact on the environment
Buildings are positioned to have an enormous impact on the environment and climate change.At 41% of total U.S. energy consumption, buildings out-consume the industrial (30%) and transportation (29%) sectors.
Buildings use about 14% of all potable water (15 trillion gallons per year), but water-efficiency efforts in green buildings are expected to reduce water use by 15% and save more than 10% in operating costs. Retrofitting one out of every 100 American homes with water-efficient fixtures could avoid about 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is the equivalent of removing 15,000 cars from the road for one year.
Standard building practices use and waste millions of tons of materials each year; green building uses fewer resources and minimizes waste. LEED projects are responsible for diverting more than 80 million tons of waste from landfills, and by 2030 that number is expected to grow to 540 million tons.