Debunking the Myths of LEED-CI

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Green interiors exposed.

Design Topic

The experiences of the companies earning LEED-CI (and of their architecture/engineering firms) do more than show the value of LEED. They also debunk myths about green building, especially in tenant improvement scenarios. Let's examine a few of the most pernicious:

Tenant improvements using LEED-CI cost more.

Not necessarily, say experienced facilities professionals. If tenant installation (TI) dollars are optimized to include LEED, there need not be any price difference. For its headquarters, the not-for-profit Easter Seals targeted LEED from the beginning, and earned Silver certification well within its estimated TI costs.

There’s no proven connection between LEED and company performance.

Fortunately, facilities managers and owners have lots of research to back up performance claims. End-user studies and industry research by groups like Pittsburgh’s Carnegie-Mellon University and the Heschong-Mahone Group, Gold River, Calif., provide evidence of direct improvements in productivity among workers resulting from improved lighting, view, ventilation, and air-temperature conditions, which are central tenets of green building. Employee satisfaction, productivity and other results bear out the connection between LEED and improved personnel and organizational outcomes.

Green materials cost more.

That may have been true several years ago. Today, with more options than ever, materials and products for LEED jobs need be no more expensive than any others. Still, a typical TI fit-out can incur a premium of 2-4% in construction costs for LEED integration due to added planning and administrative time. This cost is typically recouped within three years—on a 10-year lease, that still leaves seven years of operational savings.

LEED adds to the project scope and schedule

Neither is correct—unless LEED-CI certification is treated as an afterthought. When a project team starts from day one with a LEED–CI strategy, experience shows it will not require more design and construction time. HON’s LEED Gold showroom took only six months to plan, program, design and construct; their 67,000-square-foot headquarters was delivered in a calendar year. The Burgess Group planned and installed 67,000 square feet of LEED-CI workplace in only nine months.

Word to the wise: Start planning as soon as possible. In fact, for maximum points and possible Platinum certification, LEED-CI should commence at building selection and during lease negotiations, as 50% of available points are determined during these phases.