Green-Building Consultant Makes Predictions for 2013

Jan. 15, 2013
2013 should be a good year for the green-building industry, green-building and sustainability consultant Jerry Yudelson said in releasing his annual list of top 10 “megatrends” for the green-building industry.

2013 should be a good year for the green-building industry, green-building and sustainability consultant Jerry Yudelson said in releasing his annual list of top 10 “megatrends” for the green-building industry.

“Based on our experience, it seems clear that green building will continue its rapid expansion globally in 2013, in spite of the ongoing economic slowdown in most countries of Europe and North America,” Yudelson, founder of and lead consultant for Tucson, Ariz.-based Yudelson Associates, said. “More people are building green each year, with 50,000 LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) projects under way, by the latest counts. There is nothing on the horizon that will stop this megatrend or its constituent elements.”

The top 10 green-building megatrends for 2013 identified by Yudelson are:

1. Green building in North America will rebound strongly in terms of LEED-project registrations. “Even with commercial and governmental projects proceeding at a lower level, there should be faster growth in green retrofits, with surging college and university projects, along with NGO (non-governmental organization) activity,” Yudelson, the author of 13 books on green building, said.

2. The focus of the green-building industry will continue its shift from new buildings to existing buildings. The fastest-growing LEED rating system the last three years is LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance.

RELATED: LEED-Certified Existing-Building Space Surpasses New

3. Green buildings increasingly will be managed in the “cloud.” Judging by the large number of new entrants and products in the fields of building automation, facility management, wireless controls, and building-services-information management in 2011 and 2012, “2013 could well become ‘The Year of the Cloud,’” Yudelson said.

4. Awareness of the coming crisis in fresh-water supply will increase. Building designers, owners, and managers will be moved to take further steps to reduce water consumption in buildings using conserving fixtures, rainwater-recovery systems, and new on-site water technologies.

5. The global green-building movement will continue to accelerate. Nearly 90 countries on all continents have green-building organizations. At the end of 2012, 40 percent of all LEED-registered projects were located outside of the United States. LEED projects are being pursued in more than 130 countries.

6. Zero-net-energy buildings will become increasingly common in the commercial sector. LEED and ENERGY STAR certifications and labels have become too commonplace to confer competitive advantage among building owners. Developers of speculative commercial buildings will begin to showcase zero-net-energy designs to gain marketplace advantages.

7. Green-building-performance disclosure will be the fastest-emerging trend. Commercial-building owners will have to disclose actual performance to new tenants and buyers and, in some places, to the public at large.

8. Transparency and Red List chemicals increasingly will be a subject of contention. Environmental and health declarations will become more prevalent over the next two to three years, as building-product manufacturers try to gain or maintain market share.

9. Local and state governments will step up mandates for green buildings for both themselves and the private sector. At least 20 new cities of significant size—mostly in “blue” states—will have commercial-sector green-building mandates. The desire to reduce carbon emissions will lead more government agencies, universities, hospitals, and corporate owners to require green buildings.

10. Solar-power use will continue to grow. Third-party financing partnerships will become increasingly common, providing capital for large rooftop systems on warehouses and retail stores.

About the Author

Scott Arnold | Executive Editor

Described by a colleague as "a cyborg ... requir(ing) virtually no sleep, no time off, and bland nourishment that can be consumed while at his desk" who was sent "back from the future not to terminate anyone, but with the prime directive 'to edit dry technical copy' in order to save the world at a later date," Scott Arnold joined the editorial staff of HPAC Engineering in 1999. Prior to that, he worked as an editor for daily newspapers and a specialty-publications company. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Kent State University.