CHICAGO - Once considered a passing fad, green building has driven its roots deep into the American landscape. City Halls in Chicago and Atlanta have green rooftops, and green building initiatives are thriving in Seattle, Denver, Dallas, and other major cities nationwide. Even the United Nations headquarters in New York will be renovated with green principles in mind.

According to Mechanical Contractors Association (MCA) of Chicago administrators, they understand the vital importance of green building. “Through educational initiatives, we are making sure MCA member contractors are ready to meet present as well as future green building needs,” said Dan Bulley, secretary of the Chicago Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, volunteer chair for Greenbuild 2007, and senior vice president, MCA Chicago. Mechanical contractors install and service HVACR systems, as well as fire sprinklers, plumbing, and process piping.

“Green buildings are quickly becoming a marketplace requirement,” said Jeff Grossberg, executive director of SkySite Property LLC, a Chicago-based company working to increase property values through fiscally sound green initiatives and investment strategies. “This inevitability is being driven by consumer demand and municipal pressure/incentives. Mechanical contractors deal with the heart and soul of any building project. It is in their area of responsibility that any project will see the greatest percentage of energy savings and positive environmental impact. Their contribution to sustainable design is the difference between creating green buildings or creating a green wash practice.”

According to Grossberg, Chicago provides an exemplary regional example of the significance of the green initiatives and the fiscal benefits of incorporating sustainable systems. “The success of our green initiatives provides solid evidence that sustainability will quickly become a requirement of any future building projects,” he said.

Green buildings are becoming required by many municipalities across the country, Grossberg added. “The greatest percentage of savings, the best protection from impending legal penalties, such as carbon tax, and the greatest return on investment lie in the sound implementation of green building practices,” he said. “Mechanical contractors’ contributions to this bottom-line reality are indispensable.”

Critics of green building often balk at the perceived expense - but according to the Davis Langdon report, “Cost of Green Revisited: Reexamining the Feasibility and Cost Impact of Sustainable Design in the Light of Increased Market Adoption,” July 2007: “…there is no significant difference in average cost for green buildings as compared to non-green buildings. Many project teams are building green buildings with little or no added cost, and with budgets well within the cost range of non-green buildings with similar programs.”

To further the cause of green building, MCA Chicago will offer member contractors two educational opportunities in October 2007. The first will be a green building Webinar, “LEED® and Sustainable Design,” featuring a presentation by Lincoln Pearce, PE, LEED AP, associate and Mechanical Department assistant supervisor, KJWW Engineering Consultants, Rock Island, Ill.

Also, the Fall 2007 Business Conference of MCA Chicago and the Piping Education Council will feature educational sessions focusing on green building. The conference’s Energy 2015 Panel experts will discuss alternative energy sources, sustainable design, new technologies, and other green concepts. The panelists will be Jeff Grossberg; Dr. Jonathon Koomey, consulting professor at Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.; and author and lecturer Dan Holohan.

The Piping Education Council provides educational opportunities for participating mechanical contractors and journeymen pipe fitters belonging to United Association Local Union 597. “Green building is definitely the wave of the future,” stated Bulley, “and having access to the Local 597 workforce, with its high degree of training and expertise, gives our contractors a definite edge.”

To find out more about MCA Chicago, visit

Publication date:10/01/2007