Are There Any Risks In Building Green?
By Chris Bacavis – greenbuildingelements.com
In a stark contrast with how construction used to be thought of, the green building movement has been a shift away from the traditional concerns about money and time. The betterment of our planet, as it turns out, is quickly becoming a bigger priority. Since March of this year, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program has seen around 20,852 new LEED registered and certified projects.
Most of this can be attributed to the fact that builders view green buildings as more economical in the long run, and recent incentives on the part of the government have added an extra encouragement. But while these positives have been talked about pretty often, there are some risks associated with going green that still leave many builders wary.
According to the results of a recent forum conducted by the Marsh Green Building Team, the two things that play into builders’ reluctance to construct green projects are still financial concerns and legal concerns. Builders, of course, worry about whether or not green constructions will even endure during this economic downturn. Financially, a number of things can still go wrong. Material prices are always subject to large fluctuations, government incentives can fall through or fail to be secured, and entire projects can have unforeseen delays because of those types of things. Then there are the legal concerns.
The idea of jumping into a supposedly “green-built” project, and then failing to reach LEED certification levels expected by others, is unnerving to think about. There’s also the worry in many constructions that standards of operation and new design features – especially those not covered by the insurance market – will fall short because contractors won’t be willing to take on those things.
As it turns out, there are a number of solutions that can alleviate all these kinds of risks. They include everything from using underwriters to bringing attorneys and contract management services on board who actually have experience in green construction and design. I would encourage everyone in the industry (or even on the outside!) to read Marsh’s report (Green Building: Assessing the Risks) for more detail. It lays out a good case for not putting so much stock in fears toward the green movement. Because while green building is still new in a lot of ways, there are countless solutions that will make every construction more manageable and a lot less unpredictable.
What’s more, if you look at the report’s statistics, it seems pretty clear that the economy actually isn’t a huge risk factor anyway. David Pogue, the National Director of Sustainability for CB Richard Ellis, articulated this well when he recently said, “We are being regularly asked today if the continuing downturn in the economy has reduced the emphasis on sustainability. In many ways, the answer is actually the reverse. At its core, sustainability is about conservation and there is even more reason to conserve today.”