Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Extraordinary Growth of Green Building

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is celebrating its first billion square feet of LEED certified green buildings. Another six billion square feet of projects around the world are part of the LEED program.

LEED is a widely recognized program that requires reductions in energy and water, it also makes use of recyclable and non-toxic materials. LEED certified buildings save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to a healthier environment.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The LEED program was created by the USGBC in 2000. Since its introduction, more than 36,000 commercial projects and 38,000 single family homes have participated in LEED.

Green building continued to grow even through a deep economic recession. The US green building market has expanded dramatically since 2008 and according to a new report titled, Green Outlook 2011, by McGraw-Hill Construction, it is projected to double in size by 2015.
Green construction starts increased from $42 billion in 2008 to $71 billion in 2010, and it is expected to grow to $135 billion by 2015.

In the commercial sector, one-third of all new projects are now built to green standards and it is projected to triple in the next five years.

A survey of building owners indicated that green projects reduce operating costs (13.6% on average for new buildings and 8.5% for retrofits), increase building values (10.9% for new buildings and 6.8% for retrofits) and increase their return on investment (9.9% for new buildings and 19.2% for retrofits.)

The report indicates that the extraordinary growth of green buildings is attributable to the owners' desire for market differentiation and growing public awareness. This growth is also due to an increase in government regulation and legislation. As of September 2010, 12 federal agencies and 33 states had green building legislation and initiatives. Local government initiatives increased from 156 localities in 2008 to 384 localities in 2010.

Harvey M. Bernstein, a vice president of McGraw-Hill Construction, said in a statement. "In today's economy, firms that specialize in green or serve this market are seeing a tremendous advantage."

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