USGBC Reports: Global green building on the rise

Washington, D.C.– Global green building activity continues to rise, with significant increases expected in 19 countries over the next three years, according to the new Dodge Data & Analytics World Green Building Trends 2018 SmartMarket Report, to which the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a contributing partner.

In addition, nearly half of survey respondents expect that the majority of their projects in the next three years will be green buildings. 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, according to the report.

“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 USGBC. “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% to 90% 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.”

Improving occupant health ranks first among social drivers for green building, according to the report, followed by encouraging sustainable business practices and improved worker productivity. When it comes to benefits, most participants cite occupant health and wellbeing in addition to lower operating costs.

The report showed that 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 6% within the next 12 months, while more than 80% expect this same rate of return in the next five years. The percentage of owners reporting that new green buildings have an asset value more than 10% greater than traditional buildings has nearly doubled since 2012. In addition, most architects and contractors recognize that building green creates a higher asset value.

New commercial construction remains the biggest driver of global green building, notably in markets like China and the UAE, the report showed. However, more than 50% of respondents from five countries (including the U.S.) said green retrofits are in the pipeline, compared to a 37% 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,” said Ramanujam. “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.”

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