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Green Building Accelerates Globally Through Economic Downturn, According To New McGraw-Hill Construction Study

For green retrofits, operating savings are higher than for new buildings with operating costs reported to decrease by 9 percent over one year and 13 percent over 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 8 years for new projects and 7 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), Brazil (39 percent), and the U.S. (32 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 that 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.

"We've been on the ground watching the markets shift to green around the world. Today, there are green building councils in 92 countries around the world -- more than double what it was when we first looked at the green building market globally in 2008," said Jane Henley, president of the World Green Building Council. "The business case is helping move the markets, and this study underscores the importance of measuring and reporting those benefits."

"This study validates what we've experienced the past couple of years -- that the business community has fully embraced green building as a strategic business imperative that also happens to have a strong societal benefit.  We see this as a success of LEED and all the rating systems that have helped drive green building movement globally," said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, U.S. Green Building Council.

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.

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