Survey: Cost still a 'major barrier' to green building
Eight in 10 real estate and facilities management pros surveyed by construction management firm Structure Tone say attention to wellness is critical to attracting and retaining employees, but that cost is a "major barrier" to green building.
In its annual report, the company noted that 17% fewer survey participants sought advice on resilience this year, although none believe green building to be "a fad." Sixty-two-percent of respondents considered LEED certification to be a "valuable market differentiator."
While concerns over climate change and the need for resiliency plans have ebbed since last year, the survey was conducted prior to the recent hurricanes and earthquakes that have devastated portions of the U.S. and Mexico.
The damage caused by Superstorm Sandy in 2012 forced many U.S. design and construction professionals to think more seriously about resiliency. So it's no doubt that the concept is on the minds of building owners as well as contractors who have seen the massive damage resulting from Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, which Moody's estimates to be between $150 billion and $200 billion.
Insurance companies, which are on the hook for huge payouts in the wake of natural disasters, are likely in the best position to force the issue of resilience. However, they have been slow to incentivize such planning thus far, Alex Wilson, president of the Resilient Design Institute, in Brattleboro, VT, told Construction Dive earlier this year.
He also said the U.S. Green Building Council has helped the cause of resiliency along by developing LEED pilot credits for that category.
The growing interest in occupant wellness might be the biggest takeaway from the Structure Tone survey. The International Well Building Institute has led the charge in formalizing criteria for measuring achievement in this regard. In addition to certifying buildings and professionals according to its WELL Building Standard, the institute is also looking to make its mark on entire developments.
The $3 billion Water Street Tampa mixed-use complex in downtown Tampa, FL, is slated to be the first WELL-certified city district. To meet those standards, developers of the 40-acre waterfront project will minimize pollution, noise and other environmental factors that do not promote human health and wellbeing.
In March, Structure Tone's own 82,000 square-foot, Gensler-designed headquarters in Manhattan became New York City's first WELL-certified building. Its relevant features include water filters, healthy food options, lighting adjusted to occupants' circadian cycles, sit–stand desks and noise-level optimization.
Follow Kim Slowey on Twitter