Now, that green building practices have been accepted by the global construction industry, the field is moving forward to the next frontier.
Net-zero energy buildings produce as much energy as they consume.
Revenue from net-zero energy buildings will grow rapidly over the next 20 years, reaching almost $690 billion by 2020 and nearly $1.3 trillion by 2035, projects Pike Research. That's a compound annual growth rate of 43%.
Much of that growth will be in the European Union, where public buildings must be net-zero energy by 2019 and all construction by 2021.
The final language for EU's Energy Performance of Buildings Directive - which governs building energy codes - is still being worked out, but it's expected to drive significant investment in these technologies over the next few decades.
Similar regulations are under consideration in Japan and parts of the US. The construction industry is already developing products and services to meet anticipated demand.
"Following the surge in LEED and other green building certifications worldwide over the last few years, net-zero energy building has emerged as the ‘holy grail' in green building design," says research analyst Eric Bloom. "Technically, net-zero energy building design is feasible for many building types in many regions, but concerns about the upfront cost continue to impede it in the market."
While technologies such as efficient lighting and HVAC systems, improved insulation, solar photovoltaic and other systems add somewhat to upfront costs, they are rapidly coming down. Advances in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies improve system performance and reduce costs over the medium and longer-term.
In May, TD Bank opened the first "net-zero energy" branch in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Only eight buildings in the US are registered as net-zero energy with the Department of Energy (DOE).
In 2010, DOE awarded $76 million from the Recovery Act to support advanced energy-efficient building technology projects and the development of training programs for commercial building equipment technicians, building operators, and energy auditors. $23 million of that was allocated for Advanced Building Control Strategies, Communications, and Information Technologies for Net-Zero Energy Buildings.