Green Building Now Is a Business Opportunity Rather than a Niche Market

Around the world, the green-building marketplace is accelerating, according to a study released by McGraw-Hill Construction in partnership with United Technologies. The study indicates a shift in the global construction market, now viewing green as a business opportunity rather than a niche market. Overwhelmingly, firms report their top reasons to do green work are client demand (35 percent) and market demand (33 percent)—two key business drivers of strategic planning. The next top reasons were also oriented toward the corporate bottom line: lower operating costs (30 percent) and branding advantage (30 percent). In contrast, the top reason in 2008 motivating the green-building market was doing the right thing (42 percent) and market transformation (35 percent), followed by client and market demand.

“This research confirms that green building advances environmental stewardship while providing value to the market,” says Geraud Darnis, president and CEO, United Technologies Climate, Controls & Security. “It also confirms that we now see more pull than push for green buildings.”

In the next three years, the sectors with the largest opportunity for green building around the world include new construction and renovation projects. Sixty three percent of firms have green work planned in new commercial projects and 45 percent in new institutional projects by 2015, and 50 percent have plans for green renovation work. In the United Kingdom and Singapore, green renovation projects were planned by the greatest number of firms at 65 and 69 percent, respectively. In Brazil and UAE, new projects pose the largest opportunity. In Brazil, 83 percent of firms are planning to work on new green commercial projects during the next three years, and in the UAE, 73 percent have new green institutional projects planned.

Green buildings are also expected to garner business benefits for building owners. For new green-building projects, firms report median operating cost savings of 8 percent during one year and 15 percent during five years, as well as increased building values of 7 percent (according to design and construction firms) and higher asset valuation of 5 percent (according to building owners).

For green retrofits, operating savings are higher than for new buildings with operating costs reported to decrease by 9 percent during one year and 13 percent during five years. Asset valuation is also expected to increase, though at more moderate levels than for new green buildings—design and construction professionals expect 5 percent increased building value from green retrofits, and owners expect higher asset valuation of 4 percent. For green projects, payback on efforts is expected within eight years for new projects and seven years for retrofit/renovation work.

Other significant findings include:

  • Human-factor benefits are driving green building more today compared to three years ago—55 percent cite greater health and well-being as the top social reason for green (tied with encouraging sustainable business practice), up from only 29 percent in 2008.
  • Energy-use reduction tops the environmental reasons for green building—72 percent say it is the important environmental reason to engage in green building.
  • Water-use reduction is more important today. 25 percent of study respondents cite reduced water consumption as the top reason, up from only 4 percent in 2008. It is particularly important in the UAE (64 percent cite it as a top reason), U.S. (32 percent) and Brazil (39 percent), ranking as the second most important environmental factor in these countries.
  • Improved indoor air quality is also more important today—17 percent cite it as a top reason to engage in green building, up from only 3 percent in 2008.
  • For firms not currently doing any green project work, the primary driver they think will motivate future green activity is the desire to do the right thing. This is in sharp contrast to those involved, suggesting this market is not as familiar with the business case for green building.

The study also revealed that approximately 48 percent of the work by U.S. respondents was green—with that share expected to increase to 58 percent by 2015. These results are consistent with McGraw-Hill Construction’s 2013 Dodge Green Construction Outlook that sized the green-building share of new construction starts in the U.S. to be 44 percent by value and up to 55 percent by 2015.

Read a summary of key findings from the study.

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