Thoughts on construction law from Christopher G. Hill, Virginia construction lawyer, LEED AP, mediator, and member of the Virginia Legal Elite in Construction Law

LEED and Effective Job Creation

US Navy 110506-N-1928O-015 Bob Lipscomb identi...
Image via Wikipedia

For this week’s Guest Post Friday here at Construction Law Musings, we welcome back Elaine Hirsch. Elaine describes herself as a kind of a jack-of-all-interests, from education and history to medicine and videogames. This makes it difficult to choose just one life path, so she is currently working as a writer for various education-related sites and writing about all these things instead.

While layoffs and business closings are making the news, there is one sector that is quietly educating and growing a new economy filled with transformation and economic recovery. Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) initiatives not only consume less energy in the long run, but bring recognition and cost savings for institutions in the short run. MBA Online states that the need for innovation is driven by an exceptionally difficult economic environment, and given today’s stagnant economy, greener energy solutions have become such innovations. According to the Pew Charitable Trust report, between 1998 and 2007 there were two times the amount of job creation in the clean energy sector as any other sector in the nation.

One of the significant differences in LEED driven job positions is that there are levels and opportunities unlike manufacturing or service positions that offer little growth. It is not necessary to spend the rest of your life paying back a student loan when going into a LEED based educational field. To date, there are almost 175,000 LEED professionals throughout the world that have been certified in special areas of green energy and this number is expected to double in the next 2-3 years. According to the US Green Building Council, green construction contributed to 2.4 million jobs between 2000 and 2008, and this number is expected to grow to 7.9 million by 2013.

The government has provided the work available through a Coalition for Better Buildings and affordable training can be easily found. There are 34 states to date that have adopted LEED-based policies for public and private buildings and hundreds of local governments are following suit. Being a veteran offers even better programs with reimbursements available for exams. Many times receiving a LEED Certification in a given area of your interest can open doors just by getting hired by a fine company at the ground level.

The economy is not continuing on a downward slide but simply transitioning into a new direction if you take the time to notice a LEED-based career and where it can lead. Just as electricity, gas-powered vehicles and plastics have changed our way of life, electronics, renewable energy and LEED building is leading us in a new, exciting direction. Take part in the positive side of a changing world and find out how beneficial Sustainability Education and Economic Development (SEED) can guide you to being competitive in the direction of tomorrow.

As always, Elaine and I welcome your comments below. Please subscribe to keep up with this and other Guest Post Fridays at Construction Law Musings.

LEED and Effective Job Creation
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

3 Responses to LEED and Effective Job Creation

  1. As a companion to your research, The Brookings Institute issued a report on clean-energy jobs. The report does not deal in “LEED-jobs”, but “clean-energy” jobs. The report states:

    “The “green” or “clean” or low-carbon economy—defined as the sector of the economy that produces goods and services with an environmental benefit—remains at once a compelling aspiration and an enigma.

    “As a matter of aspiration, no swath of the economy has been more widely celebrated as a source of economic renewal and potential job creation. Yet, the clean economy remains an enigma: hard to assess. Not only do “green” or “clean” activities and jobs related to environmental aims pervade all sectors of the U.S. economy; they also remain tricky to define and isolate—and count.

    “The clean economy, which employs some 2.7 million workers, encompasses a significant number of jobs in establishments spread across a diverse group of industries. Though modest in size, the clean economy employs more workers than the fossil fuel industry and bulks larger than bioscience but remains smaller than the IT-producing sectors…

    “The clean economy grew more slowly in aggregate than the national economy between 2003 and 2010, but newer “cleantech” segments produced explosive job gains and the clean economy outperformed the nation during the recession. Overall, today’s clean economy establishments added half a million jobs between 2003 and 2010, expanding at an annual rate of 3.4 percent. This performance lagged the growth in the national economy, which grew by 4.2 percent annually over the period (if job losses from establishment closings are omitted to make the data comparable).”

    In essence, (similar to the Pew Charitable Trust) the report states that 2.7 million workers are employed in “clean economy” jobs; and, 500,000 jobs were created during 2003-2010 – meaning that 125,000 jobs were created during 2009-2010. Projecting the job growth toward 2013, the increase (with improved economic growth) is closer to 250,000 – 350,000 for the years 2011-2013; leaving the total “clean economy” jobs far less than 7-9 million. Also note that “clean energy” jobs lagged growth of non-clean energy jobs (according the The Brookings Institute report.

    I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade – just include all the information that’s available.

  2. Apart from the comments that George made above which speak to the issues of jobs creation, I wish to address the statement that LEED initiatives have both created less energy demand and lowered energy costs for the owners of those buildings. Currently, the LEED process does not track energy use or cost savings after construction nor is it a primary focus of the design process. Energy modeling is performed during the design process to project use but those projections have proven to be quite wide of the mark in actual practice. In fact, it is a hot button right now in litigation. What does a building owner do when their LEED building does not deliver on cost savings? Here is an interesting article on some of the issues:

  3. An interesting aspect of the litigation is what the real damages are if a building does not either meet a certain LEED rating or energy level performance. For my clients (mostly construction folks) that means some potential long term time horizon issues.

Leave a reply