Organizations across most sectors have grappled with climate change in recent years. Construction firms are no different. Many have begun adopting new workflows and sourcing green materials to promote sustainability and shrink their environmental footprints.
Man-made infrastructure accounts for almost 40 percent of nationwide carbon dioxide emissions, according to research from the U.S. Green Building Council. This vapor, along with other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide, catalyzes climate change, warming global temperatures and triggering detrimental climatological and meteorological shifts.
Consequently, construction companies have made transformative changes in an effort to reverse this trend and usher in a new era of environmentally friendly fabrication.
The USGBC developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification program more than a decade. In the years since, it has grown to become the foremost global standard for green construction. In fact, an estimated 1.85 million square feet of new commercial and residential space is deemed LEED-certified daily.
Structures that carry this certification are not only made from sustainable materials but also include interior and exterior features that facilitate communal cohesion. For instance, an apartment building constructed to code might include lush gardens or mixed-use spaces made for non-residents and renters alike. Additionally, the structure would certainly feature core operational systems designed to emphasize efficiency and reduce overall environmental impact.
Edifices like the one described above dot major cities across the country. Developers in metro areas such as New York City have long supported LEED construction standards, The New York Times reported.
“We made a commitment almost seven years ago to start working on innovative construction and making sustainable buildings, so that it becomes the default way to build,” Michael Namer, CEO for Alfa Development in Manhattan, told the newspaper.
Indeed, the company erected the first LEED-certified condominium in New York back in 2007. Today, it continues to put up environmentally-friendly properties built to protect the planet. Of course, firms like Alfa also recognize the fiscal benefits that come along with green design.
Last year, the National Multifamily Housing Council polled U.S. renters on the subject. More than 75 percent said they were interested in LEED-certified properties, National Real Estate Investor reported. Some said they would even be willing to pay more per month to help stave off climate change.
Changes on the horizon
LEED and similar programs are gaining popularity among both consumers and construction firms, a development that bodes well for the climate. However, roadblocks lie ahead, according to Construction Dive.
Experts in the industry believe green construction advocates must alter their message to maintain momentum and appeal to organizations that might not necessarily care about climate change.
“It’s really important to look at the work that we’ve done under the umbrella of sustainability and continue with that work and just recognize that there are lots of ways to articulate what we’re achieving,” Beth Heider, chief sustainability officer at Skanska USA, told the publication.
For many, this means emphasizing the monetary gains that accompany improved efficiency and the job-creating power of green construction. If this messaging shift takes place, more firms may embrace LEED, bolstering bottom lines and protecting the environment one new development at a time.