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Global green building activity continues to rise

Monday, November 19, 2018

New commercial construction remains the biggest driver of global green building, according to the Dodge Data & Analytics World Green Building Trends 2018 SmartMarket Report. The recent industry research shows green building in 19 countries is poised for strong, rapid growth over the next three years.

The study was conducted in 86 countries and surveyed 2000 building professionals.

Nearly half of the survey respondents expect that the majority of their upcoming projects will be green buildings. Notably in markets like China and the United Arab Emirates.  Improving occupant health ranks first among social drivers for green building, followed by encouraging sustainable business practices and improved worker productivity.

“With more and more people demanding and expecting healthier places to live and work, more and more leaders around the globe are committing to green building, which is now a trillion-dollar industry,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president, and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). As the green building movement has grown, the savings associated with lowering operating costs continues to be a top benefit for owners. Nearly two-thirds of respondents expect to see building operating costs decrease by at least six per cent within the next 12 months, while more than 80 per cent expect this same rate of return in the next five years. As lowering operating costs and occupant health become more widely known and accepted, the value of green buildings increases as well. The percentage of owners reporting that new green buildings have an asset value more than 10 per cent greater than traditional buildings has nearly doubled since 2012. In addition, most architects and contractors recognize that building green creates a higher asset value.

Two-thirds of the survey participants report that using a rating system like LEED allows them to create a better performing building, and more than half of respondents believe that rating systems provide third-party verification that ensures buildings are running in a sustainable manner.

“For the last 25 years, LEED has helped transform building practices. It continues to push the top performers, but we know that we can’t leave the other 80-90 per cent of buildings behind. We need to get all buildings on a path to sustainability in order to raise the standard of living for all people around the world, regardless of their circumstances. And the results of this study show we are on the right path.”

However, more than 50 per cent of respondents from five countries (including the U.S.) say green retrofits are in the pipeline, compared to a 37 per cent global average – suggesting that existing buildings and operational benchmarking will provide significant opportunities for growth.

“The future of green building is focused on performance, but as the study shows, most of the time this practice can be limited in scope,” Ramanujam said. “There has been no increase in the use of metrics to track performance in the last three years, and now there is no excuse for it. It is not enough to demonstrate leadership at a point in time. We want all green buildings to continue to demonstrate leadership long after they are constructed and occupied. That is why USGBC has been laser-focused on bringing building performance benchmarking tools like Arc and LEED v4.1 to market: to make it easier for all projects to take strides toward improving the health and well-being of the people who occupy them every day.”

Additionally, the recent launch of LEED v4.1 offers projects yet another way to continue to drive performance on the path toward LEED certification. Today, there are more than 95,600 commercial projects participating in LEED across the globe, with 2.2 million square feet of building space becoming LEED-certified every day.

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