More Good News on Green Building Around the World

Green building markets are accelerating around the world and are increasingly viewed as standard, best practice, according to two surveys released over the past couple of weeks.

This is happening because design and construction professionals and building owners no longer view green building as a "right thing to do" niche, but rather they finally see it as a business opportunity, concludes a survey by McGraw-Hill Construction.

As opposed to 2008, when survey respondents said their top reason for building green was the "right thing to do," now the top reasons are client demand (35%), market demand (33%), lower operating costs (30%) and branding advantage (30%).

In the US, 48% of new construction is now green, expected to rise to 58% by 2015. Energy efficient features are now pervasive in new homes, expected to reach 90% of all construction by 2016.  35% of architects, engineers and contractor positions are now green, and there’s a shortage of skilled workers.

"It is notable that over the next three years, firms working in countries around the world have green work planned across all building types, incorporating both new construction and renovation," says Harvey Bernstein, vice president, Industry Insights and Alliances for McGraw-Hill Construction.

Building owners are saving 8% the first year and 15% over five years on operating costs, and green buildings are valued 7% higher than conventional ones.

There’s also greater appreciation for the health benefits of green buildings – 55% say greater health and well-being is the most important social reason for building green, up from 29% in 2008.

Reducing energy consumption continues to be the top environmental reason for building green at 72%. Reducing water use is rising in importance with 25% citing as as a top concern, up from 4% in 2008.

"We’ve been on the ground watching the markets shift to green around the world. Today, there are green building councils in 92 countries around the world – more than double what it was when we first looked at the green building market globally in 2008," says Jane Henley, president of the World Green Building Council.

"This study validates what we’ve experienced the past couple of years – that the business community has fully embraced green building as a strategic business imperative that also happens to have a strong societal benefit. We see this as a success of LEED and all the rating systems that have helped drive green building movement globally," says Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair, U.S. Green Building Council.

Building Green Takes Precedence Over LEED Certification

A majority of real estate owners, developers and corporate building owners plan to build green over the next year. 64% have new construction projects (up from 46% in 2010) and 71% plan renovation projects (up from 58% in 2010, according to Turner Construction’s 2012 Green Building Market Barometer.

However, executives seem less interested in achieving LEED certification. This year 48% say they will seek certification, down from 53% in 2010 and 61% in 2008.

Top reasons for not pursuing certification are the cost of going through the process (82%), staff time required (79%), and the overall perceived difficulty of the process (74%).

Although this may be a worrying trend for LEED certifiers, it’s a testament to how the certification system moved the market to where it is today. Many companies believe they know how to build green and no longer need a "checklist" to follow.

Of the 41% of executives who say they may seek another certification other than LEED, 63% cite Energy Star as the likely alternative, highlighting the importance of energy efficiency for building owners.

It seems the most significant barrier to green building remains cost – 61% of executives still cite the length of the payback period as a significant obstacle and 62% still cite higher construction costs.

Green Building Gateway Launched

The US Green Building Council (USGBC) has launched the Green Building Information Gateway (GBIG) to further accelerate market transformation.

Users can explore green building activities around the world to  analyze trends and snapshots of projects and how they have progressed over time.

Here’s the Gateway:

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