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Released earlier this month, the new “World Green Building Trends 2018 SmartMarket Report” published by Dodge Data & Analytics, indicates that the international market for green construction buildings has grown significantly in the last 10 years. And, the demand for green building activity is continuing to grow—to even double in some regions.

Survey participants included more than 2,000 architects, engineers, contractors, owners, specialists/consultants and investors from 86 countries. Of those responding, 47 percent expect the majority of their projects—more than 60 percent—will be green by 2021.

Liz Beardsley, Senior Policy Counsel at the U.S. Green Building Council, notes this is the latest in a series of reports that look at what people in this sector are predicting as far as their own activity with respect to green building. “What we’re really seeing, over many years, is a steady increase,” she says. “And we’re excited that with all that is going on in the world, and for the U.S., seeing that there’s still really strong growth across all the countries.”

Carrier is the premier sponsor of the study. Chris Nelson, president, commercial HVAC, notes that they’ve seen the shift toward more efficient, sustainable buildings. “The fact is, green buildings provide a triple win—delivering measurable benefits for building owners, occupants and the public from reduced operating costs, improved indoor air quality and reduced energy consumption. The trends uncovered in this report reflect what we’re seeing in our business—building green is good for the public health, the environment, and the bottom line.”

Each of the 19 countries spanning six continents featured in the report are expecting substantial growth in the percentage of green projects each is doing. Donna Laquidara-Carr, Ph.D., LEED AP, industry insights research director with Dodge Data & Analytics, says one thing that is interesting, and consistent with previous studies, is that even with the green building movement being more mature in some regions now, is that growth is anticipated in every country. “In each of them, there’s growth,” she says. “And in some of them, there’s quite a bit of growth, even in places where you wouldn’t necessarily expect to see it.”

Laquidara-Carr adds that enthusiasm for green building is clear in all major markets measured, driven by the business benefits they receive, which has been consistent since 2012. “These benefits include 8 percent operating cost savings in the first year and increased building asset values of 7 percent for new green buildings, which are clearly influencing all those who do green building to deepen their engagement with green.”

The report shows similar benefits being reported for green building retrofits and renovations. Carl Elefante, 2018 AIA president, says retrofitting buildings is critical to meeting our carbon-neutral goals. “This data shows that not only is it good for our planet, but it can also mean an operating cost savings of almost 10 percent in the first few years. While that may serve some motivational value, greater incentives and improved policies are necessary in the United States and beyond to make the meaningful building retrofits that we need a reality.”

In regards to retrofits, Beardsley notes that more than 50 percent of the respondents in five countries, including the U.S. and Canada, said that green retrofits are in the pipeline, compared to 37 percent global average. “We’d like to take that green retrofit trend and push those into operational benchmarking, and see an increase in the use of metrics to track building performance. That’s something we’re very engaged in with our ARC platform, and LEED for OM.”

Additionally, the report found that the biggest challenge to green building—the perception that it costs more than traditional construction—has declined dramatically from over three-quarters of respondents in 2012 to under half today.

Many respondents also noted that they plan to build green in the next three years without seeking certification. Beardsley notes that while there’s predicted growth in green building, the predictive growth in green building certification was slightly lower, but still growing. Laquidara-Carr adds that if you look at the differences, they are very close. “There is an emerging gap,” she says, “but it’s not a big gap, and I think it demonstrates that the majority of green buildings are still being certified.”

More than two thirds of participants said certification allows them to create better performing buildings. “That’s important,” Beardsley says. “And more than half that focus on third-party verification helping to ensure a building’s going to be able to operate in a sustainable way.”

As Laquidara-Carr explains, the survey asks about social reasons for building green, as well as environmental. “Environmental reasons have been pretty consistent: energy turns out way on top,” she says. “But, the social reasons, they’re allowed to pick up to three out of the list that they think are important. So if they only think one is important, they can just pick that one. So therefore, you can end up with a bunch of different factors if people are saying these three things are important to me, rather than just this one. You can end up with a lot of different factors really gaining in importance, and we saw that happen this study, and I haven’t seen that before in any of the previous studies.”

Of the social drivers for green buildings, healthier buildings emerged as a top priority, along with improved occupant health and well-being, and increased worker productivity. Also important was creating a sense of community and supporting the domestic economy. “It’s a different perspective,” Beardsley says. “It’s not only the economic equation, and it’s not always only the bottom line in measurable ways.”

To learn more, download the free report at https://www.construction.com/toolkit/reports/world-green-building-trends-2018.

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