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Green Building Gearing Up For Global Growth

The construction industry is gearing up for global growth in green building projects. Architecture and construction companies from around the world are reporting that they expect to be involved in increasing numbers of green projects over the coming years. These findings come from a new McGraw Hill Construction study which follows up on a similar study in 2008. The most significant difference between the results comes in the fact that business opportunity and financial benefit are among the significant drivers behind decisions to go green. In 2008 the main reasons were a desire to ‘do the right thing’ or ‘transform the market’. Showing that a market once driven by the idealism of the more environmentally conscious is moving more and more into the mainstream as it succeeds in demonstrating economic as well as ethical value.

green-buildingTravlr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Green building has become a long-term business opportunity with 51 percent of study firms planning more than 60 percent of their work to be green by 2015, up from 28 percent of firms in 2012.

Nine countries, U.S.A., Australia, Germany, Norway, United Kingdom, Singapore, South Africa, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Brazil, returned a statistically significant number of responses. All expect growth and those which currently have the lowest level of green building activity are predicting the fastest growth, more than doubling activity by 2015.

Drivers of Growth in Green Building

Changes in the factors driving this growth are significant as are the benefits reported by companies and owners involved in green building projects. Client and market demand has remained level at about 35%. But then come some crucial changes:

Lower Operating Costs:

  • 2008 – 17%
  • 2012 – 30%

Branding/Public Relations:

  • 2008 – 22%
  • 2012 – 30%

Right Thing to Do:

  • 2008 – 42%
  • 2012 – 26%

Market Transformation:

  • 2008 – 35%
  • 2012 – 18%

Economic Benefits of Green Build

The survey highlights the fact that green building is providing tangible economic benefit for developers and building owners.  Green building is decreasing operating costs and increasing building values.  The figures below are the median reported benefits for both new build and retrofit projects:

Decreased Operating Costs Over One Year:

  • New Build 8%
  • Retrofit 9%

Decreased Operating Costs Over Five Years:

  • New Build 15%
  • Retrofit 13%

Increased Building Value for Green versus NonGreen Projects (According to AEC Firms):

  • New Build 7%
  • Retrofit 5%

Increased Asset Value for Green versus Non-Green Projects (According to Owners):

  • New Build 5%
  • Retrofit 4%

Payback Time for Green Investments:

  • New Build 8 Years
  • Retrofit 7 Years

Social and Environmental Reasons to Build Green

Social and environmental reasons have also changed over the three years in question. Health and well-being is rated as the top social reason for going green. 55% in 2012 up from 29% in 2008. Energy saving is, predictably, far and away the most important environmental reason cited, with water use reduction, lower emissions and conservation of natural resources coming in second place depending on location.

There is reason for hope indeed if a better life which costs less becomes the most important aspect of a decision to build green. A testimony to the idealists, early adopters and tireless researchers who are bringing green technologies and techniques into or back into the market in economically viable ways.

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