Experts anticipate the green building market to be among the fastest-growing sectors worldwide in the coming years. In the United States, the number of LEED-certified projects — those that follow a world-recognized rating system — rose from 296 in 2006 to more than 67,200 in 2018.
Many factors make a building eco-friendly, including:
- Efficient use of water
- Sustainable materials
- Good indoor air quality
- Measures for waste reduction
- Employment of renewable energy
Green buildings are great for the environment, but there are also economic and health incentives for construction businesses and developers that invest in it.
They’re in High Demand
Client demand is one of the top triggers driving green building activity in North America, even more so than environmental regulations. Those who own these properties tend to attract better tenants, secure longer leases and experience fewer vacancies. They also enhance their public image by promoting eco-friendly initiatives.
The demand for green buildings stems from their value, too. There has been steady growth since 2012 in the number of owners who see a 10 percent or greater increase in asset value for new green buildings. Investors who buy now and sell later will likely secure a substantial profit.
They Allow You to Save Money
Green buildings use thoughtful design to maximize natural resources and reduce waste. As a result, they use less energy and water and are cheaper to maintain. In the United States, these properties report 19 percent lower operating costs than typical buildings. They also consume 25 percent less energy and 11 percent less water.
Since building occupants tend to stick around for longer, owners also save money in advertising and unutilized vacant space. Offices and apartments are less likely to go unused, as many people want to take advantage of the benefits green buildings offer. In fact, the average satisfaction levels of occupants are 27 percent higher than in standard buildings.
They’re More Efficient to Build
Not only are green buildings sustainable in terms of operation and maintenance, but they’re also more efficient to build. They take advantage of eco-friendly materials such as bamboo, recycled steel, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood, sheep’s wool, precast concrete and more. The integrated design also utilizes sunlight as much as possible to reduce the need for lighting and heating.
Despite the requirement of specialized materials and designs, green buildings tend to have lower construction costs than standard projects. Modern technologies allow for data-driven construction decisions to monitor fuel usage, schedules and maintenance. Builders with a focus on proactive planning allow all construction steps to be greener, as workers aren’t wasting resources or delaying projects.
They Improve Occupant Health
People spend most of their time indoors, and the quality of the air can dramatically affect health outcomes. According to one survey, 32 percent of respondents had direct experience with bad health stemming from poor environments. Green buildings, on the other hand, offer cleaner air and water and less exposure to toxins.
Research reveals that employees who work in LEED-certified buildings are healthier, happier and more productive than workers in conventional ones. Of those studied, 80 percent say enhanced air quality improves their physical health and overall comfort. It also reduces absenteeism due to asthma, allergies, depression and stress.
They’re Better for the Environment
Buildings and their construction methods account for 39 percent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, a gas that contributes to climate change. With sustainable initiatives, the construction sector can lessen its impact on the environment. In the U.S. alone, green buildings produce 34 percent less CO2 emissions than traditional structures.
Beyond carbon dioxide, eco-friendly buildings also use fewer resources, including energy and water, and generate less waste. These structures have kept millions of tons of trash out of landfills by keeping refuse to a minimum and introducing recycling programs. The materials that make up the building also emit less volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which have a detrimental impact on air quality.
Consider Green Building for Business
Many businesses shy away from the idea of green buildings because they believe it will be costlier than traditional construction. However, research shows that these sustainable structures are cheaper to build and maintain. Plus, a host of benefits come with this eco-friendly initiative, from improved occupant health to a lessened environmental impact.
Now is the time to jump on the green bandwagon. The market will only continue to grow, and those who invest now will likely see a significant boost in property values.