Construction industry glad to follow the federal LEED

Thursday - 6/2/2011, 10:08am EDT

Marco Giamberardino, senior director for federal and heavy construction, Associated General Contractors of America

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

The Federal Acquisition Regulations Council has issued a rule mandating the greening of federal procurements. That means agency buyers have to specify energy saving or recycled products whenever possible.

When it comes to buildings, Marco Giamberardino, senior director for federal and heavy construction, at the Associated General Contractors of America tells Federal News Radio the new rule isn't really new for construction contractors.

"For as far back as 2000, when GSA started mandating LEED certification on their facilities, our members have been geared up and have been prepared and have been building facilities that meet these standards," said Giamberardino. He added that in many cases, they've exceed the standards.

But he noted that with two million construction workers out of jobs at some point or another over the past few years, he's concerned. He noted that recovery dollars are starting to running out, and budget problems have resulted in cuts in FY 2011 and FY 2012.

Giamberardino said the industry is only too glad to follow the lead of the federal market. "I think the government has been ahead of the curve for quite a while now, as I go back to the GSA example, but the other challenge our members have been facing nationwide as far back as 2006-2007 is frankly, just the downturn in the economy. The private market, with the exception really of the DC area and a few other pockets around the country, has been severely down over the last several years."

In order to compete, all contractors great and small have been doing what needs to be done, said Giamberardino. "They view it as good for the environment, they view it as good for their company, and they view it as meeting the needs of the owners - in this case the federal government. So what they'll do is they will go through the training, they'll do the research that they need to do to make sure their team, no matter how large or small can meet the demands."

As for the FAR rule change, Giamberardino said he didn't see much the industry isn't already doing - with one notable exception. Contractors, he said, are used to negotiating with subs up to the last minute, often in the hallway where the bid is to be submitted, with proposals and counter-proposals flying back and forth in the form of handwritten notes. The new rule requires bids to be submitted electronically. Otherwise, said Giamberardino, the rule "essentially codifies a requirement to have not just recycled paper as the paper you use when you hand in your bids, but it has to be double-sided, it has to be 30 percent post-consumer fiber wherever practicable." Members will have to be very careful about what kind of paper they're buying.

LEED certification of federal buildings, said Giamberardino, is something taxpayers should be proud of. "It is a very huge pride of ownership for the owner, whether they are a private owner or a public owner. They probably have that plaque displayed on the entrance of their building and it's something they do look at as something even part of the resale value of the building, if it's in the private market, down the line."

For more about LEED and federal projects, see click here.