Green Building Predictions Expanded

Stephani Miller at Custom Home magazine wrote a great article entitled Green Building Consultant Offers Predictions for 2009 calling out LEED AP’s Jerry Yudelson’s top 10 predictions for the green building industry. The best call out of which was Yudelson’s notation that “There is nothing on the horizon that will stop this trend.” I didn’t want to butcher the list or predictions but lent my thoughts to them (mine are in italics).

Yudelson’s predictions for 2009:

  1. The green building industry will grow by more than 60% this year, maintaining the strong growth pattern of the past three years. Considering Forbes magazine said that green building represents a 12 billion dollar industry, the prosepct that it could hit 20 billion in three years is a fairly enticing business proposition.
  2. Green building will benefit from the Barack Obama presidency, which so far has shown a strong focus on the green economy and energy concerns. The trend will center on increasing jobs in energy efficiency, new green technologies, and renewable energy, and will continue for at least the next four years. Though I agree with this statement, research has shown that the infrastructure and budgets to move everything into place could take at least 2 years to build and then continue to grow hopfully into Obama’s second term.
  3. The focus of green building will begin to shift from new buildings to greening existing buildings by retrofitting, upgrading, and renovating. I agree that new builds will level out, but the continued population explosion indicates that new building will continue to flourish.
  4. Awareness of the coming global crisis in freshwater supply will increase, leading building designers and managers to take further steps to reduce water consumption in buildings with more conserving fixtures, rainwater-recovery systems, and innovative water technologies.  Agreed! See my article yesterday on water conservation.
  5. LEED-Platinum-rated projects will become more commonplace as building owners, designers, and construction teams learn how to design for higher levels of LEED achievement on conventional budgets. I’m not sure if it will just be a platinum revolution or if in 2009 simply more homes will adopt the LEED application process; more ideal would be that more builders evolve from their virgin LEED projects to their second, third and so on.
  6. Solar power use in buildings will accelerate with the extension of solar energy tax credits through 2016 and the prospect of increasing utility focus on renewable power goals for 2015 and 2020. Third-party financing partnerships will continue to grow and provide capital for large rooftop systems. Again, I agree that solar will grow, but the tax credits hardly offset the upfront costs. The economy needs to get back on its feet for consumers to say “hey yes I want solar on my house”, because no one has an extra $15k lying around to do it and no one has the home equity to tap.  A federal program that provided upfront funding that allowed you to use tax money you owe to offset the costs…now we’re talking.
  7. Local governments will increasingly mandate green buildings for both themselves and the private sector. While concern over the economic impacts of green building mandates will be present, the desire to reduce carbon emissions by going green will lead more government agencies to require green building. This is one of the key points in Obama’s stimuls act; it will not all happen in 2009 but the promise of infrastructure growth and the modeling of efficient government building is elemental to the US becoming energy independent in the future.
  8. Zero-net-energy designs for new buildings will gain increasing acceptance in both public and private buildings. Reducing a building’s energy use through design makes purchasing renewable energy to displace the remaining loads more cost-effective, Yudelson says. Who would’t accept a NET ZERO home; they’re cool now, they’re going to continue to be cool. What we need is a better system to sell credits back to the utility companies making the capture of the upfront costs happen faster.
  9. Green homes will come to dominate new-home developments in more sections of the United States as builders increasingly view green building as giving them a competitive edge. I think it is far-fetched to think green homes will “dominate” new home developments in 2009. At present they still represent less than 1% of all home building projects; suffice it to say, I hope that green building “penetrates” all home building projects in 2009 in one way or another in 2009. Even something is better than nothing. In order of my top three, I’d hope for energy efficiency, waste diversion and water conservation to become standard building practices starting today.
  10. European green building technologies will become better-known and more widely adopted in the United States and Canada as more European architects and engineers open offices in the U.S., Yudelson says. Not a topic I have knowledge on but the Europeans always seem to beat us to the punch so I’m all for it as long as it doesn’t involve recycled metal everywhere.

posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter: newscaster

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