Green building consultant's Top 10 predicts green building growth despite economy

Feb. 2, 2009
Green building consultant Jerry Yudelson has published his Top 10 list of green building trends for 2009. Yudelson says that green building will continue to grow in spite of the global credit crisis and the ongoing economic recession in most countries.

TUCSON, ARIZ. — Green building consultant Jerry Yudelson has published his Top 10 list of green building trends for 2009. Yudelson says that green building will continue to grow in spite of the global credit crisis and the ongoing economic recession in most countries.

Consulting engineer Yudelson is author of the books Green Buildings A to Z and The Green Building Revolution, which the editors of CONTRACTOR believe should be required reading for any mechanical or plumbing contractor getting into green and sustainable construction and service. Yudelson also authored a white paper for the Mechanical Contracting Education and Research Foundation of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America entitled, “European Green Building Technologies.”

“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,” explained Yudelson, the principal of Tucson-based Yudelson Associates. “In putting together my Top 10 trends for 2009, I'm taking advantage of conversations I've had with green building leaders in the U.S., Canada, Europe and the Middle East over the past year.”

Yudelson's Top 10 trends includes the following:

1. The green building industry will continue to grow more than 60% in 2009, on a cumulative basis. “We've seen cumulative growth in new LEED projects over 60% per year since 2006, in fact 80% in 2008, and there's no sign that the green wave has crested,” he said.

2. Green building will benefit from the Obama presidency, with a strong focus on green jobs in energy efficiency, new green technologies and renewable energy. This trend will last for at least the next four years.

3. The focus of green building will begin to switch from new buildings to greening existing buildings. “The fastest growing LEED rating system in 2008 was the LEED for Existing Buildings program, and I expect this trend to continue in 2009,” said Yudelson.

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

5. LEED Platinum-rated projects will become more commonplace as building owners, designers and construction teams learn how to design for higher levels of LEED achievement on conventional budgets.

6. Solar power use in buildings will accelerate with the extension of solar energy tax credits for buildings through 2016 and the prospect of increasing utility focus on renewable power goals 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 increasingly mandate green buildings from both themselves and the private sector. While concern over economic impacts of green buildings mandates will be present, the desire to reduce carbon emission by going green will lead more government agencies to require green buildings.

8. Zero net energy designs for new buildings will gain increasing acceptance in both public and private buildings. “I've shown that you can get building energy use down to low levels with better design,” said Yudelson, “and that makes it easier and more cost-effective to buy green power to displace the remaining energy use.”

9. Green homes will come to dominate new home developments in more sections of the U.S., as builders increasingly see green as a source of competitive advantage. “This trend was foreseen in my 2008 book, Choosing Green (New Society Publishers), which for the first time documented the large number of new green housing developments in the U.S. and Canada.”

10. European green building technologies will become better known and more widely adopted in the U.S. and Canada. “My forthcoming 2009 book, Green Building Trends: Europe (Island Press), will be out in the spring and will help accelerate this trend, along with more European architects and engineers opening offices in the U.S.”

Yudelson Associates is an international firm engaged in sustainability planning and green building consulting. Yudelson is widely acknowledged as one of the nation's leading experts on green building and green development. He is the author of eight green building books and serves as research scholar for real estate sustainability for the International Council of Shopping Centers, a 70,000-member international trade organization. He is a frequent green building speaker at industry and professional conferences and chaired the annual Greenbuild show from 2004 through 2008.

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