Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Matthew Hallowell

Second Advisor

Michael Behm

Third Advisor

James Diekmann

Fourth Advisor

William Yearsley


This thesis presents the first detailed exploration into the association between the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification system and the health and safety of construction workers. Significant improvements have recently been made in the field of construction safety; however, little is known about the effects green building designs and worker safety. The US Green Building Council (USGBC) sponsored LEED green building program represents the largest program in the United States for the measurement, verification, and certification of green buildings. A recent study found that LEED certified buildings have accounted for a higher injury rate than comparative traditional non-LEED buildings. This finding served as the impetus for this research, which examined why green buildings are more dangerous to build. To explore this topic, six detailed case studies were conducted following a strict protocol developed from guiding literature. The results indicate that the LEED requirements cause both positive and negative health and safety effects on the workers installing and constructing the design elements needed to meet the LEED specifications. The findings can be used to facilitate design for safety and advanced site safety management. It is expected that these results will have a positive impact on the safety and health of the construction workers because potential hazards associated with LEED building elements have been identified and described in detail.