I am trying to make sense out of a number of different events that will be shaping the design, construction and green building industries for the foreseeable future. Maybe you can help me make sense out of it all. Here is what I am seeing:
Something is going on with LEED
The number of LEED registrations appears to be down substantially this year. To learn more, I would suggest you register for this upcoming webinar hosted by Greener Buildings and Rob Watson. The decline in registrations is not surprising given the decline in the design and construction of new commercial buildings.
What is surprising is the anger that I am hearing by those frustrated with the LEED rating system. Many of these frustrations are now being publicly expressed in reaction to the Henry Gifford lawsuit against the US Green Building Council. Environmental Building News ran a fascinating article on the reaction to the Gifford lawsuit: "In the years that I've been reporting for Environmental Building News, I can't think of another news story that has drawn as much immediate and widespread interest." The article goes on to survey the reactions to the Gifford lawsuit. I have always feared a green backlash would occur, but I never expected it so soon and so abruptly. I wonder if the decline in registrations and certifications is tied to the green building community's frustration with LEED?
Update: Also, check out this article written by Lloyd Alter regarding LEED bashing.
We need a solution for our infrastructure needs
And speaking of anger, the Tuesday elections will most definitely affect the future of the construction industry. The shutdown of the New York-New Jersey tunnel by Gov. Chris Christie is a perfect example of what I believe will be a reining in of public works spending. The Republicans resoundingly won 60 seats in the House based in large part on a message of fiscal austerity; fiscal austerity means less federal investment in large construction projects. And yet, our infrastructure needs significant rehabilitation. When I mention our infrastructure, I like to include the inefficient buildings that could be retrofitted. Next week, at the Construction User's Roundtable convention, I will be speaking about the country's aging infrastructure, the current political climate and one potential solution: public-private partnerships (PPPs). As federal and state green building projects are cut in the name of fiscal austerity, hopefully PPPs will provide an answer to a very complicated issue.
I am in the process of creating my business strategy for 2011. I see American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects dropping off, federal and state construction projects being abandoned, and public-private partnerships being touted as the savior for our infrastructure and green building needs. The next two years will also be very important for the future of green buildings and the LEED rating system. How quickly the Gifford lawsuit is resolved will be important, but just as important is what the US Green Building Council does to address the anger underyling the lawsuit.
What do you think? How do you interpret everything that is going on?
Photo credit: J.VillaretePhoto