Sustainable Cities Collective has re-launched as Smart Cities Dive! Click here to learn more!

Report: Green building advocates worried about movement's future under Trump administration


Dive Brief:

  • Some architects have expressed concern about how President-elect Donald Trump will affect the future of the green building movement, according to the Architectural Record.
  • Trump's picks for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency — Rick Perry and Scott Pruitt, respectively — are of particular concern, as both individuals have expressed doubt around accepted climate change science and have promised to get rid of certain environmental regulations, which could possibly include those mandating sustainable construction for federal buildings.
  • However, the Record noted that while some green building advocates are worried about what a Trump administration will bring, others are encouraged by local commitment to green policies, such as that of C40 city mayors. 

Dive Insight:

Only a few of Trump's commercial properties have attempted LEED certification, and he has discounted their value in previous statements, according to the Record. Some opponents of the General Services Administration's requirement that federal buildings be LEED-certified applaud the potential discarding of sustainable regulations.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey, government buildings conserved energy at twice the rate of their privately owned counterparts between 2003 and 2012. This is partly attributable to federal mandates that buildings improve energy performance and reduce consumption by 2.5% every year through 2025. This is one regulation that Trump could roll back upon entering office. However, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which requires certain green building practices, is not as easily scrapped.

The incoming Trump administration has led some sustainable construction leaders to consider changing their messaging, according to Beth Heider, chief sustainability officer at Skanska USA. She recently told Construction Dive that the industry should put less emphasis on the climate change implications of sustainable construction and focus more on the bottom line.

Nevertheless, even if the Trump administration wages war against sustainability in construction practices, building owners are not likely to abandon the principles. Last year, a Bentall Kennedy report revealed that green buildings, particularly those that are LEED-certified, can garner 3.7% higher rents and 4% greater occupancy rates than non-LEED-certified buildings. The company also discovered that ENERGY STAR-certified buildings earned 2.7% higher rents and saw a 9.5% increase in occupancy.