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Slow Hawaii LEED Certifications




The gap between the number of Hawaii projects that actually have been able to earn LEED certification and the number of projects that is seeking the building industry's coveted "green" label is widening as some businesses have been deterred by slow returns on investment.


To date, 159 projects in Hawaii are registered for LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. But only 15 commercial and residential buildings in Hawaii have met the strict standards for achieving LEED designation, with the first approval having been made in 2004.

John Deere
Cost of Wisconsin
TLE
Ferris Industries Playworld
Teak Warehouse Valmont
BCI Burke Company The Cedar Store
Belgard

LEED is a benchmark for the design, construction and operation of green buildings and awards four designations -- certified, silver, gold and platinum -- based on a point system that evaluates criteria such as location, energy and water efficiency, and materials and resources used.

Local industry experts attribute the unbalanced ratio mainly to the upfront costs associated with certification, which some say are so expensive it can take decades to realize the cost savings.

Charles Kaneshiro, a principal with the Honolulu architecture firm Group 70 International, said some of the tough standards aimed at improving the environment can take 30 years to be paid back through energy savings on electric bills. For example, in the new construction category, the U.S. Green Building Council awards points in such categories as indoor environmental quality, use of recycled resources, energy efficiency, renewable energy use and how "sustainable" the building site is (such as being close to public transportation and having minimal pollution).

The expense is a common concern not only in Hawaii, but across the nation, with more advocates saying that constructing buildings for LEED certification is a sound business decision for long-term property owners who can realize the savings over time.

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December 8, 2019, 8:50 am PDT

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