By 2015, green buildings could constitute approximately half of all commercial space, according to a study by Good Energies, Inc., a New York venture capital firm. Although sustainable initiatives were perceived as a niche market just 10 years ago, developers now realize that going green in new and renovation projects is not as expensive as previously thought.
According to Greg Kats, senior director of climate change for New York-based Green Energies and the study’s author, he applied the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy Environmental Design standards – which encompass such categories as energy and water use, site location, landscaping and proximity to mass transit and shopping – to define what qualifies as a green building. LEED certification was not required, though buildings had to adhere to the standards.
Similarly, a McGraw-Hill Construction study released last October found that the share of the green retrofit market could grow to 20 or 30 percent over the next five years. That translates to market opportunities for major projects totaling $10.1 to $15.1 billion. At present, green building practices are incorporated into five to nine percent of building retrofits. The market opportunity for major projects – those costing more than $1 million – could total as much as $2.1 to $3.7 billion a year.
“We now have a large enough, detailed enough body of data to say that the presumption is ‘why wouldn’t you do a green building?'” Kats noted. “It’s very cost-effective and it reduces risk in a number of areas including health, exposure to energy and water prices and obsolescence.”