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USGNN Original StoryConstruction is Still Going Green in 2008

Green was a topic of excitement during an otherwise bleak constructino outlook for 2008 during McGraw-Hill Construction's Outlook 2008 Executive Conference yesterday in Washington, D.C.

When asked, "what's the most exciting thing coming," most agreed on one topic: "green, green, green," as Susan Kennedy, director of marketing, Sloan Valve Co., said. But that's not to say there aren't challenges associated with the green movement.

"For green, the real challenge is in [transforming] existing buildings," said Brad Haeberle, vice president, marketing, Siemens Building Technologies Inc. We're just not there."

Shortly after the panel discussion an entire session was devoted to this topic. Rick Fedrizzi, president of the U.S. Green Building Council, gave a green construction outlook for 2008. He said the key to getting buy in for green buildings is to have a strong business case. For example focus on items such as tenant retention for green buildings and provide proven facts:

  • Students in green schools perform 20 percent better on tests than students in other schools;
  • Patients in green hospitals are leaving two and a half days earlier than patients in other hospitals;
  • Shoppers are more relaxed in green retail stores where factors such as daylighting and improved air quality plays a role, thus they buy more.

"These human performance factors are the smoking gun when it comes to building green," said Fedrizzi.

While many may think building green has high costs he quickly addressed this myth.

"The number one mistruth is that it costs more to build green. There is study upon study that proves that for the first two levels of LEED a building can be constructed for not a penny more," he said. "A $4 investment in building green nets a $58 benefit per square foot over 20 years."

He also pointed out that LEED buildings can reduce carbon omissions by 40 percent. "This is what it's all about," he said.

"We are in the midst of the biggest societal shift since World War II "We're humans. We want to address these problems. We don't want to leave a legacy of filth."

According to Robbert Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill, D.C. is leading the way in green building. In fact, the new Nationals stadium in Washington, D.C., is attempting to become the first baseball stadium to earn LEED certification. Green construction is expected to continue its growth. The tipping point, Murray says, is expected to come in a market shift over the next three years. By 2009, 80 percent of corporate America is expected to be engaged in green at least 15 percent of the time, and 20 percent will be engaged in green 60 percent of the time.

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