Industry experts across the United States are predicting steady growth for the green building industry, and not only because the recession has piqued interest in making the most out of what’s available.
It’s because so many of the bright spots in the recent downturn were downright green. After all, in 2008, according to the Pew Charitable Trust, private investors upped their involvement in green businesses by 48% to $5.9 billion.
Here are some of the key trends expected to drive the green wave:
Green Retrofitting – Since the greenest building is one that’s already built, expect to see increasing interest in adapting existing buildings to maximize efficiency and minimize impact.
This trend pairs nicely with the growing emphasis on repairing American infrastructure. Organizations like the Preservation Green Lab are poised to lead us all through the intersection of historic preservation and sustainability. See www.preservationnation.org/issues/sustainability/green-lab/.
Sustainable Suburbs? – It doesn’t have to be an oxymoron. Smart growth is clearly, well, growing. Look for more legislative and citizen-based emphasis on transit-oriented development and new construction incorporating housing, retail and more.
Truth, or at Least Consistency, in Labeling – Nutritional labels on packaged foods give consumers the information they need to reduce their fat, salt and calorie intake. They’d like similar information for their houses.
How much energy do they consume? What’s the size of their carbon footprint? What about water use? Competing standards and labels can irritate consumers, who seek the greatest amount of green building for their greenbacks, so some sort of shakeout is likely.
A Breath of Fresh (Indoor) Air – As buildings become ever more snug and energy efficient, indoor air quality becomes more of an issue. Just ask the 25% of Americans coping with allergies and asthma. New EPA remodeling requirements taking effect in 2010 are designed to minimize the effects of indoor pollutants.
Slowing the Flow – More than half of America’s public water supply goes towards indoor and outdoor residential use, and the pressure to conserve is bound to grow. This could boost adoption of the EPA’s WaterSense specification for new homes, which was finalized in December, 2009, and cuts water use by 20%. For more, see www.epa.gov/watersense/.
Peripheral Professional Education – Builders and consumers aren’t the only ones who need to know about the advantages of sustainable construction. Realtors, bankers and insurance agents need to get up to speed on the features and benefits of green building, so they can properly value and promote green buildings.
Showing Some Results – Green building can save money, conserve resources, promote public health, regenerate communities, provide a nice return on investment and it’s been around long enough there should be documentation to prove these benefits. Look for more reports – and requests for them – showing how good it is to be green.
To see a longer list, check out ENN.