“Sustainability” is an important new term in the construction industry meaning a project is: 1) environmentally friendly to build; 2) results in operational cost savings over its entire life cycle; and 3) leaves a minimal “carbon footprint". Sustainability is determined through several voluntary standards networks and certification systems, most notably LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), run by a Washington D.C.-based non-profit organization, called The U.S. Green Building Council. TheLEED system is used by project owners, architects, engineers, real estate owners, builders, and designers to certify that their projects – be they commercial, residential, or institutional; and new construction or renovation - are what is called “Green Buildings”.
Until relatively recently, the sustainability movement was largely a marketing ploy used by major U.S. building interests. Nevertheless, this movement is now having a noticeable impact on building trends in the United States and Canada. State, county and municipal governments are starting to adopt these voluntary standards into legalized formats and to use them as zoning requirements for large projects and for tax credits and other fiscal incentives. The U.S. federal government has also begun funding LEED-based initiatives, and the USGBC and Portland Cement Association (PCA) petitioned for more funding as part of 2009 Economic Stimulus Plans. These efforts were successful, and actual stimulus funding spent on Green Building projects jumped to $11 billion in 2010 from $1.5 billion in 2009. Also in 2010, the U.S. General Services Administration mandated gold-level LEED certification for all new federal building construction and substantial renovation projects; and in December 2015, Congress allocated additional funding of almost $20 billion for Green Building initiatives at the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency.
According to the USGBC, LEED initiatives, including legislation, executive orders, resolutions, ordinances, policies, andincentives are now found in all 50 states, and LEED Green Building practices and initiatives in 155 countries worldwide. Illinois has ranked first on USGBC's Top Ten States for LEED Green Building the past three years (2013-2015), with approximately 3.43 gross square feet per capita in 2015. Michigan has yet to make the top ten list, and generally ranks about 17th, according to USGBC, although Detroit and Grand Rapids rank among the top 30 cities nationwide for LEED Green Building, with Grand Rapids at or near the top of the list every year for the past six years among mid-size U.S. cities.
There are various ways for a project to qualify as a “Green Building”, but the use of concrete, and specifically, acid-stained concrete flooring, one of the best ways possible. This is because concrete as a building material is energy efficient to produce, made from local materials that require little to no transportation, and uses recycled or waste products that are readily available. Concrete is now, actually, the second most widely used material in the world, after water. Acid-stained concrete as a flooring system also contributes in ways that other flooring materials do not: it produces little construction waste; emits little to no VOC’s, never needs replacement, has reduced costs of operation (e.g., lighting, HVAC, and maintenance),promotes optimal indoor air quality, and is ultraviolet light-resistant and inflammable. Most of our customers will never need or require LEED, or another “Green Building” certification, for their home or place of business, but it is a sure way to attract positive press and public attention.
To read more about decorative concrete and LEED Green Building, please see this article: