Top 10 Green-Building Trends for 2010

Green-building consultant Jerry Yudelson, PE, MBA, LEED AP, says green building will continue to grow in spite of the global credit crisis and the ongoing economic recession in most countries. Yudelson has published a “Top 10” list of green-building trends, which includes this and other insights.

“What we’re seeing is that more people are going green each year, and there is nothing on the horizon that will stop this trend,” said Yudelson, principal of Tucson, Ariz.-based green-building consulting company Yudelson Associates. “In putting together my top 10 trends for 2010, I’m taking advantage of conversations I’ve had with green building industry leaders in the U.S., Canada, Germany, and Australia as I have traveled the world over the past year.”

Yudelson’s top 10 green-building trends:

1) Green building will continue to grow more than 60 percent in 2010, using new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) project registrations as a proxy, on a cumulative basis.

“We’ve seen cumulative growth in new LEED projects over 60 percent per year since 2006, in fact, 80 percent in 2009, and there’s no sign that the green wave has crested,” he said.

2) Green building will benefit from the Obama presidency and the strongly Democratic Congress, with a continued focus on green jobs gained by applying incentives to energy efficiency, new green technologies, and renewable energy. This trend will last for the foreseeable future.

3) The focus of the green-building industry will continue to switch from new buildings to greening existing buildings.

“The fastest growing LEED rating system in 2009 was the LEED for Existing Buildings program, and I expect this trend to continue in 2010,” Yudelson said.

4) Awareness of the coming global crisis in fresh-water supplies will increase, leading building designers and managers to take further steps to reduce water consumption in buildings with more water-conserving fixtures, rainwater-recovery systems, and new water technologies.

5) The green-building movement will go global, as more countries begin to create their own green-building incentives and develop their own green-building councils. More than 30 countries will show considerable green-building growth in 2010.

6) Solar-power use in buildings will accelerate with the prospect of increasing utility focus on state-level renewable-power standards for 2015 and 2020. As before, third-party financing partnerships will continue to grow and provide capital for large rooftop systems.

7) Local governments will step up their mandates for green buildings for themselves as well as the private sector. At least 20 major cities will create commercial-sector green-building mandates. The desire to reduce carbon emissions by going green will lead more government agencies to require green buildings.

8) Zero-net-energy designs for new buildings will become increasingly commonplace in residential and commercial sectors as LEED and Energy Star ratings become too common to confer competitive advantage.

9) The retail sector will embrace green building, especially green operations.

"I call this trend, ‘shop green ‘til you drop.’ More retailers are becoming conscious of the need for both operational green measures and greening the supply chain,” Yudelson said.

10) European green-building technologies will become better known and more widely adopted in the United States and Canada.

11) As a bonus, Yudelson said, “Campus sustainability plans and actions will become the defining trend in higher education,” as more than 800 educational institutions race to embrace a thorough response to climate change.

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