The annual Greenbuild conference will be in Chicago in November, and the trend for green building continues to grow. Green building now accounts for almost one-third of all new construction in the U.S. That’s a staggering increase, since it only accounted for two percent of new construction just five years ago. LEED certification guidelines were only established a decade ago, but builders, and the general public, have learned about the guidelines and rating system quickly.
“The word LEED meant nothing 10 odd years ago,” Michele Russo, director of green research for McGraw-Hill Construction told NPR. “Now, that is literally like Kleenex is to tissues. When you think of a LEED building you know it is a green building.”
LEED certified buildings are designed to help the environment, but there may be other benefits as well. A recent Michigan State University revealed that workers in green buildings had fewer absences due to asthma, allergies and illness, and showed higher productivity.
Many construction experts questioned the viability of green building when the U.S. Green Building Council was formed, believing that it creates substantial additional cost opposed to a typical project. But the University of Michigan announced recently that its research indicated that on a typical $100 million project, LEED certification will add about 2 percent to the cost. That cost savings can be easily recouped through energy savings just over a few years of the building’s life.
Michigan isn’t the only college campus turning to LEED certification. Iowa State and Louisville have already built LEED certified facilities and Wingate University is also constructing a College of Health Sciences Building that is expected to be LEED certified when it opens in 2011.
CM Black Construction Company is overseeing that project, and has maintained more than 90 percent of recycled construction waste during construction.
“When you are building a LEED certified project, you have to be meticulous with all your materials,” said CM Black President Emmitt Black. “We are proud of how well we have done in that regard, and we are determined to maintain that kind of success with this and other future LEED certified projects we will handle.”