To find out what trends are at work in the office-construction market, Midwest Construction talked to a leading developer, two noted architects and three major general contractors.
Here’s what they told us.
Green Continues to Grow Call it sustainability, green construction, energy efficiency or any other synonym, but the trend of building ecologically sound and energy-efficient buildings was the one trend mentioned by all six of the industry experts we interviewed.
Ryan Freeman, director of business development at McCarthy Building Cos., St. Louis, says that although “green” continues to be a buzz word, tightening budgets have recently reduced building owners’ willingness to pay a premium price for more environmentally friendly products.
Brian Gordon, vice president of Chicago’s Magellan Development Group LLC, a building owner, says sustainability is currently a hot button even for small deals. “Even office leasing tenants want to know whether the space meets LEED standards,” he adds.
LEED (Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design) is the U.S. Green Building Council’s system for rating the sustainability of a building. Building points are earned by using sustainable materials, construction practices and operating systems. Total points accumulated determine a building’s score, ranging from silver up to platinum.
Frederick Schmidt, principal in the interior design practice at Perkins+Will architects in Chicago, agrees that sustainability is a strong trend among clients, whether they are building owners or tenants doing build-outs. “Some clients want to be part of the sustainability trend because they feel it is the right thing to do,” he says. “Others also want the additional benefits that having a ‘green’ image gives them in marketing and recruiting.”
Tom Polucci, group vice president and director of interior design for the Chicago architectural firm HOK, says so many clients are interested in having sustainability in their spaces that his company now designs all projects to meet LEED standards.
Rick Blair, manager of business development for general contractor Turner Construction Co., Chicago, says that the vast majority of projects now have some sustainability component to them. “It’s become standard in the industry,” he says.
General contractor Hunzinger Construction Co., Brookfield, Wis., has eagerly embraced sustainability. The company’s headquarters is LEED gold, and its training center has earned the LEED platinum rating.
Hunzinger so believes in sustainable construction that it has started a Sustainable Building Solutions, an advisory company whose experienced LEED accredited professionals help clients identify and implement sustainability objectives.
President John Hunzinger says that “retro-commissioning” is a growing trend within the scope of sustainability. “Owners of existing buildings of all types, including offices, are asking us to upgrade their building’s sustainability by making them operate more efficiently,” he says. “It’s kind of like tuning up a car so that it runs better.”
Mixing Business With Pleasure, Retail and Residences Magellan’s Gordon says a growing trend for owners is to put office space in mixed-use buildings that also house retail, hotel, condominium, parking and entertainment space. “We did it in our recently completed Aqua Building, and we plan...