LEED with KPRS’ Brian Petersen

August 08, 2012

We were delighted to have the opportunity to interview, Brian Petersen, a construction project manager and a LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) accredited professional, from KPRS Construction. KPRS is the number 1 Green builder in Orange County and ranked top 100 nationwide.

For those of you, who are not familiar with LEED construction, LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using environmentally sound practices in terms of energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

Q: What are the incentives, besides environmental sustainability, companies might have to build with LEED certification?

Of the incentives of LEED building I’d have to say the largest is in cost savings due to energy efficiency.  LEED places a heavy emphasis on energy use reduction, often encouraging Owners to attempt much more extensive energy saving schemes than we find in traditional buildings.  We’re finishing up a project now where the pursuit of LEED Gold led us to changing out fluorescent to LED lighting throughout a large two story bus station.  The payback for the upcharge to LED lighting was estimated at approximately  2 years, with over $100,000 in annual energy savings as well as reduced maintenance costs for each year thereafter.

Other incentives come in the form of marketing and occupant satisfaction.  Green building is gaining in popularity and LEED is by far the most recognized brand in the field.  LEED embraces occupant satisfaction at the core of its mission.  Occupants of LEED buildings are more likely to see more daylight and views, have greater control of their lighting and air conditioning systems, be less bothered by new construction odors and emissions, etc.

Q: Do you find a certain market sector seeking LEED certification, ie businesses creating/manufacturing environmentally sustainable goods, small-batch food production, fashion companies, etc.?

Frankly, the dozen or so LEED projects that KPRS has been involved in have crossed all market sectors.  We’ve done small retail banks (Citibank was making all their new branches LEED a few years ago), large warehouse buildings with no known tenant at the time of construction, office buildings for companies like Bausch & Lombe and Beckman Coulter (both somewhat related to the medical field), etc.  What I can say is the most common by far is public buildings – often by mandate. Cities and states often require buildings funded by the public to be LEED.

Q: What would be a reason companies may want to abstain from obtaining LEED certification for their bulding?

Cost.  LEED has great benefits, but there is an associated cost.  While items like energy efficiency often have a calculable payback, many other items- recycled content of materials, low emitting materials, etc have value to occupants, but associated cost savings may be difficult to determine.  In addition LEED is heavy on paperwork and the costs to manage the process can be high.  This management cost has no real project benefit, besides the designation of LEED on the building, which only the Owner can truly value.

Q: What’s the most frequently asked question you receive from people looking to convert their building/business?

How much will it cost?