Studies Point to Sustained, Long-Term Green Construction Growth

February 18, 2016 By Carl Weinschenk

green_buildingLife will change, and change rather drastically, for energy managers and folks with similar roles during the next few years. The reason is simple: Recent research and commentary point to the extent that the buildings themselves will change.

The general sense has been that construction and retrofits gradually are going green. Interesting quantification of the transition was released this week. Especially interesting is a multi-sponsor study entitled that assessed views of 1,000 building professionals in 60 countries.

The part of the study that focused on the United States found that an increasing percentage of builders said that more than 60 percent of their projects will be green.

Because the definitions differ around the world, the study defined green project as one “that is either certified under any recognized global green rating system or built to qualify for certification,” according to Donna Laquidara-Carr, the Industry Insights Research Director and Managing Editor of the report. Using that definition, 39 percent of builders said that they reached this goal last year and that that percentage will be 39 percent in 2018. Conversely, 41 percent of buildings said that fewer than 15 percent of their projects were green in 2015. That percentage will sink to 27 percent by 2018.

The study was conducted by Dodge Data & Analytics for United Technologies. Additional support came from Saint-Gobain, the U.S. Green Building Council and the Regenerative Network.

The bottom line is that green buildings are becoming the norm, not the exception. Support is not just at the edge of environmentalism, Laquidara-Carr pointed out. “Remember that only about one third of the respondents are members of a green building council,” she wrote in response to questions from Energy Manager Today. “Therefore, when we see the percentage who expect that more than 60% of their projects will be green more than doubles from 18% to 37%, it shows a very strong, general commitment to green that is starting to permeate the construction industry.”

The best analysis, as almost always, comes when the money trail is followed. The study found that green construction results in an annual 9 percent median decrease in operating costs and a 14 percent median decrease over the course of five years. Green renovations lead to decreases of 9 percent for one year and 13 percent for five years. The other interesting financial metric is asset value perception. The Dodge study found that respondents felt that their properties had a 7 percent higher asset value because of the green construction.

Finally, Dodge found that the builders in the U.S. are upbeat: Forty-six percent of U.S. respondents expect to work on green new builds, compared to 38 percent globally and 43 percent expect to work on green retrofits, compared to 37 percent globally.

Other studies also suggest the growth of green building. The Canada Green Building Council and The Delphi Group last week released a study that assessed the impact to date of the green building industry. The study found that he green building industry in Canada has contributed $23.45 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product and was responsibility 297,890 full time jobs in 2014. The firm found that Canada’s LEED projects from 2005 to last year will contribute $128 billion in grow output, $62.3 billion in GDP and create 701,700 jobs over their lifetimes.

Steven Schleider, the president of Metropolitan Valuation Services, used a column at the New York Real Estate Journal to make some green building predictions for this year. He suggests that there will be more “cool roofs and green roofs,” and goes on to define each. The trend to LED lighting will continue. Net-zero buildings — those that generate all the HVAC and electricity they consume on site, “are on the rise but remain problematical to realize,” he wrote.

The future looks green. The top line is that green projects are proliferating. Beyond that, the good news seems to be that the progress is spread out among builders and not built on a complete acceptance of green procedures by a minority of people in the field. This suggests that it is making sense to builders and the people for whom they work see green procedures as one of several options – and increasingly are opting for it.

Energy managers are advised to understand that the future is green. Wrote Laquidara-Carr: “Our findings suggest that there will be dynamic growth in green globally for at least the next three years, based on the increased level of green involvement anticipated by the respondents.”

Leave a reply


*