Why LEED Buildings Make Financial Sense

The University of Notre Dame chose sustainable, LEED-approved construction options and why you should, too.

Recently, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) awarded the University of Notre Dame with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification for the design, construction, and operation of three buildings attached to Notre Dame Stadium. These building are Duncan Student Center, Corbett Family Hall, and O’Neill Hall. Your next statement may be “So what?!” Why should the folks at Notre Dame care, and why should anyone else involved with owning, managing, and operating a commercial building care?

The answer? Money.

LEED Gold Certification seal from the U.S. Green Building Council

According to research from the U.S. Department of Energy, LEED buildings consume 25% less energy and 11% less water than non-LEED buildings. That translates to lower utility bills. If you could build the same facility but pay 11-25% less in operating costs, why would you choose otherwise? And this isn’t even taking into account all the environmental benefits of LEED buildings!

If the decision is made for the non-LEED option, then that is saying you know you could spend less operating this building, but you want to pay more. You know you could improve the income flow of your building, but you choose to make less. Why? 

LEED Buildings: Financial Common Sense

Perhaps the concern is that a LEED building might cost more to construct than a non-LEED building. Depending on where you are building, there are notable tax benefits and incentives from states and municipalities (AKA free money). Choosing to build a non-LEED building is essentially saying you don’t want free money.

Finally, since a commercial building is an investment, the core factors of occupancy rates, lease payments, and long-term tenants are very important to cash flow. Citing the USGBC, LEED buildings retain higher property values than non-LEED buildings. LEED buildings are healthier for the occupants, and 79% of employees say they would choose a job in a LEED building over a non-LEED building. All of these point to greater demand (occupancy), longer term leases, and higher property appreciation. Money, money, money.

LEED Building infographic from U.S. Green Building Council
Source: USGBC

Intelli-Hood: A Solution for LEED Buildings

As I write this from Melink’s own LEED Platinum-certified headquarters, nicknamed HQ1, and across the street from our newly opened HQ2, which is a Zero-Energy Building, I am very happy for Notre Dame. I am also very PROUD that Melink’s Intelli-Hood® variable speed kitchen hood controls were a part of all the conservation measures that helped them achieve this certification. Within the three buildings that achieved LEED status, Intelli-Hood was installed on eight kitchen hoods. Intelli-Hood is now standard on any new hood installations, as well as retrofits, at Notre Dame.

Notre Dame opted for the sustainable, energy efficient, and financially smart option of LEED construction. What will you choose?


Buy Cheap, Buy Twice

I’ve been in my role, with Melink Corporation, as a Sales Engineer just over 1.5 years.  I want to ensure it’s understood that I am certainly no expert in the “Construction World” but I do have tangible experience.  This article’s content is based on my first-hand experiences, real-world applications I’ve dealt with and conversations I’ve had.  Thus, these opinions are largely subject to my own with some additional input from outside articles and research.  

My first week into this role was a mix of emotion, to say the last.  It was during this week that my manager (whom I see as an industry expert and mentor) expressed to me [something along the lines of], “Eric, you’re dealing with one of the toughest verticals Melink works within [New Construction].  I’ll be honest with you – you’re going to learn so much but you’re really going to have to learn to love frustration.”   Yes, you [reader] likely share my same sentiment – skepticism, surprise and curiosity; though, it didn’t take long to understand what he meant.  I was “christened” nearly the very first project I dealt with.  Long story short, despite our product being hard specified by the hired designing Mechanical Engineer, our product was ultimately “value engineered*” for a cheaper alternative.  Echoing my feelings earlier, I was surprised, curious and frustrated.  I became aware of the “Achilles heel” of the New Construction world – the bidding process (which is influenced by cost).  Cost is, and always has been, the deciding factor in mostly all aspects of a new build project.  It makes sense, until you dig deeper.

Everyone is guilty.  Even the product manufacturers should hold themselves accountable in this regard; they/we are just trying to play the ‘game’ and stay in business.  In his article, “People Are Cost-Driven with Kitchen Equipment but There’s an Adage of Buy Cheap, Buy Twice”, Andrew Seymour interviewed a chef by the name of Hayden Groves.  Mr. Groves is quoted as saying some buyers are too “Excel spreadsheet-driven” and end up trying to shave off costs when it might not be the right move for the business.  First hand, I’ve seen this happen, as explained earlier.  Our controls can often be eliminated for a cheaper alternative that cannot do the same thing, thus cannot produce the same results as our technology.  This decision is often made without any discussion or pragmatic decision process.  Who makes this decision?  Ultimately, it should be the owner or whomever holds the checkbook and it often is; in this case, I understand.  The owner can do what he/she wants to do.  Unfortunately, often it’s a ‘bidder’ who is trying to win the project by competing solely on cost.  Again, I want to reiterate that this doesn’t happen every time, but it does happen way more than it should.  Yes, I am saying that if a trusted designer hypothetically specifies a Rolls-Royces then you’ll likely see most bidders price out a Toyota Camry (Toyota’s are great vehicles – I own one!).  Yes, they both have engines and four wheels, but they are uniquely different and have glaringly different features, components and thus, different values.  Without going down this rabbit hole, I’ll just say it’s the principle of the matter…that matters.   Attending an industry conference this past week, I had the chance to sit down with consultants and manufacturers.  This exact discussion was brought to the table as a point of frustration for the consultants.  They share my frustration!  This is a broken process and research support this argument.  Consulting-Specifying Engineers recent publication (www.csemag.com), provided the top 10 HVAC systems and BAS challenges.  The top challenge, comprising 79% of respondents, is the inadequate budget for a good design. Conversely, this same research shows that 96% of specifying engineers can agree that product quality is paramount when comparing products, above all else; these are the engineers that are hired for their expertise to ultimately design and specify products to accompany the design, to meet an owner’s and/or architects’ goals.  Yet, here we are.  A battle between the desire to specify based on quality but ultimately being sold on what is cheapest.

So, how does a whole industry change?  Perhaps by “eating the elephant, one bite at a time” as they say.  One often overlooked and unquestioned factor is that of aftermarket and post install support.  It’s imperative that we all make sure to mention our product’s warranties and service/support on the front end of the process, as the lack of either could potentially be a major headache on the backend.  If I never mentioned Melink’s warranties/service in my discussions, they would never get asked about; this is shocking.  A 2016 McKinsey study proves that service and support reign most important in terms of purchasing factors

  2016 McKinsey Study – “How to Unlock Growth in the Largest Account.” 

Hayden Groves, also harps on warranties/support.  He said, “You should look for manufacturers’ warranty too. If a manufacturer gives you a minimum standard of a year but somebody else gives you five years, that’s a huge belief in that piece of equipment”, says Hayden.  Speaking of Rolls Royce…

“The quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.” – Sir Henry Royce of Rolls Royce

*Value Engineering = “Cost Cutting”


  1. Pelliccione, Amanda. “2019 HVAC & Building Automation Systems Study.” Www.csemag.com , Equal Opportunity Publications, Inc, 16 Jan. 2019, bt.e-ditionsbyfry.com/publication/?i=559857.