Flooring contractors indicate they are facing both administrative and technical challenges related to their involvement with LEED projects, according to a recently conducted survey.

According to the online survey conducted by MAPEI, the most frequently mentioned administrative challenges include: Insufficient assistance or information provided by suppliers, 26.9%; Difficulty with accessing information on how to complete submittals for LEED projects, 21.5%; Difficulty in contacting a knowledgeable person to answer their LEED-related questions, 19.4%; and Getting information they need is not provided in a timely manner, 10.8%.

Commonly requested information from suppliers is generally for product certification letters related to the products’ contributions in helping obtain LEED points. Lack of a standardized way of collecting the required information adds to the complication because, depending on the project, the manner in which information is reported appears to vary.

The contractors also indicated understanding the requirements for LEED points has been a challenge. For example, 27% find it difficult to locate information about the requirements for earning or contributing to LEED points and almost 24% have difficulty understanding how many points a product may help contribute to a project.

There is a strong need to clarify for contractors that products themselves are not LEED-certified; rather, using products that are compatible with LEED recommendations can help contribute to points.

Difficulty understanding how to complete LEED submittals was mentioned by approximately 18.3% of the respondents, and 17.2% said difficulty understanding the LEED program in general has been a challenge.

Support Needs

Contractors also shared their opinions on what they would find helpful and what they expect from their suppliers in relation to LEED projects. The most frequently mentioned need is for LEED product certification letters that indicate the areas in which the products can make a LEED point contribution (mentioned by 49.5% of the respondents). Desire for a tutorial to help them understand how flooring products help contribute to LEED points was mentioned by 29% of the contractors, and 18% would like to have tutorials that can help them understand how the LEED program works in general. They all stressed the need to make the tutorials jargon-free and easy to understand.

The most preferred method by far for receiving information is via the Internet as chosen by 80.6% of the respondents to the survey. In addition, 35.5% prefer to also receive printed information, and 12.9% would like to talk by phone with a technical person who can answer their questions.

Future Expectations

According to a majority of survey respondents, LEED will continue to grow increasingly important. Ninety-one percent expect the importance of LEED to increase in the future; only 8% believe it will stay the same; and 1% think LEED’s importance will decrease.

It is clear contractors have a great need for technical support and they expect easy and on-demand access to information from their suppliers. As the LEED standard evolves, and as the number of LEED projects continues to increase, suppliers will need to satisfy the needs of flooring contractors by offering an easy-to-comprehend, online, interactive forum that will give them clear answers on how the flooring industry can contribute to LEED projects.

Editor’s Note:MAPEI recently conducted an online survey to get first-hand information about the needs of flooring contractors and installers related to their work with LEED projects. Ninety-three out of 195 medium to large commercial flooring contractors around the United States responded, yielding a response rate of 47.7 percent.

The questions were on topics such as the contribution of the products they use for LEED points; the challenges contractors face; and the needs they have in relation to LEED. Survey participants specialize in the installation of a variety of flooring products including tile, wood, carpet, laminates, resilient and other flooring types. All of the contractors surveyed install carpet, 96% install resilient, 84% install tile, 83% install wood and 72% install laminates; a small number install other types of flooring as well.

Less than half of the contractors polled (42%) are mainly involved in corporate or commercial projects, 32% concentrate on healthcare projects, 12% focus on educational facilities and approximately 9% are involved in government or institutional construction.

However, 59% of the contractors who responded to the survey indicated that up to 10% of their work is with LEED projects. For 31% of the respondents, LEED projects account for up to 25% of their work. Approximately 9% indicated that up to 50% of their work is on LEED projects.