Most Public Owners Turn to Energy Efficiency

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff November 15, 2005

A majority (60%) of public owners in the United States have implemented construction projects with energy efficiency designs in the past year, say researchers at construction industry consultant PinnacleOne. Yet less than a third (29%) of the owners currently use or plan to use USGBC LEED standards in the coming year. Surprisingly, almost half (49%) of the study participants were unfamiliar with the standards.

“While they may not be familiar with specific green building standards, with a majority of owners implementing some type of energy efficiency design in the past year it is obvious that LEED is forcing the issue of energy efficiency,” said Darr Hashempour, vice president of energy solutions at PinnacleOne. “The education sector and the western region, especially California, have been pioneers in using innovative technologies to achieve new levels of energy efficiency. This a product of the high energy costs in the region and that bond approvals needed for school construction are often contingent on designs being energy efficient. We believe the northeast region will soon follow the lead of the west on energy.”

These are just a few of the findings in The 2005 PinnacleOne Pulse of U.S. Public Construction survey, which examined the opinions of 167 public owners involved in construction projects throughout the United States.

Some of the major energy related findings include:

The education sector is smart on energy. Almost three-quarters (73%) of the education sector has implemented energy efficient designs in the past year and 39% of this sector either currently uses LEED green building standards or is planning to use them on projects in the coming year.

The West leads, the Northeast lags. Public owners in the western region of the country are leaders in the pursuit of energy efficiency. Eighty percent of these owners (versus 60% of owners overall) have implemented energy efficiency designs in the past year. At the other end of the spectrum, less than half (45%) of owners in the Northeast say they implemented such designs.

Lack of demand for LEED. Among the majority (51%) of owners who were familiar with LEED standards, almost half (44%) had no plans to use them. Of those owners with no plans to implement green building standards, almost two-thirds (65%) cited a lack of demand for these improvements and another quarter (26%) didn’t believe the LEED standards were worth the increased cost.

Certain technologies are hot. Among the owners that implemented energy efficiency designs in the past year, there were clear favorites among the equipment and technologies that they used on the projects. More than two-thirds (68%) of these designs utilized new HVAC (heating/cooling/ventilation) equipment and 42% involved energy efficient lighting or lighting controls. Central plant cogeneration upgrades were used in 10% of the designs.

For more information about survey, click here .