How Much Are You Willing to Pay?

We are considering building a LEED certified office/training/storage facility onto an existing garage. Seems like a good idea to be part of something that contributes to the well-being of the environment.

A friend who manages at a local lumber yard just attended a seminar on the LEED program and informs me that using LEED certified construction materials may cost 4 or 5 times what the everyday product does. Same grove of trees, but one is tree is LEED approved by being processed at a certified mill and one is just cut down and sawn into lumber for the masses. The LEED tree is much more expensive to use than the other one and raises the cost of construction. So, too, with other materials.

I’m not sure what the reason is for this added expense. Both trees were living and now are dead. Both trees were dropped with gas fueled chain saws and hauled away with big diesel powered skidders to diesel run trucks that took them over asphalt-paved roads to the petroleum fired saw mill. If you can’t see a whole lot of ecological advantage of one tree treatment as opposed to the other, you are not alone.

The paper work involved must be the cause of the extra cost, but what on earth do you have to do to certify that a dead tree was mercifully treated when its life was cut short, (no pun intended)? Was one mill using thinner blades than another to save sawdust? Was the bark mulched rather than tossed into a pile? What exactly raises the product cost so dramatically?

Whatever it is, it will curtail seriously the appearance of LEED- NC projects around the country. There are currently none in my area, and it doesn’t look good for my plans to build one either. With fuel prices what they are, my last concern is that a dead tree has been humanely treated at the lumber yard. 

I guess this all proves that any good initiative can be screwed up if one works at it.