The phrase “going green” has become commonplace in today’s business environment, yet it still yields mixed reactions—from rolled eyes to glowing words of approval. Like it or not, the green movement is here to stay—no longer is it a trendy fad touted by environmentalists and college students. Construction is one of the most impacted and actively engaged industries of the green revolution.
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently released its 2015 Green Building Economic Impact Study, which notes that between 2011 and 2014 green construction generated $167.4 billion in GDP, and will end up accounting for more than 2.3 million jobs in 2015. The green building sector is outpacing the overall construction industry in growth and will continue to gain in the foreseeable future.
Reading any of the major industry publications, you’ll quickly realize green building is a popular topic. From using reclaimed materials to 3D printing methods that use less resources, there is no end to new technology that promises lower environmental impact.
How are construction companies evolving?
Green construction practices can now be used as a competitive way to win bids. Companies are looking to set themselves apart and subsequently are increasingly engaging architecture firms and construction companies that utilize green building and design practices. Signs telling visitors about a building’s environmental footprint have become common place in lobbies through the United States. Beyond bragging rights, green buildings have less upkeep costs, lower utility usage and are better for the long-term health of those who use the building.
Since the mid-90s, the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system has become one of the most recognized standards for green construction. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED Certification has gone from a single set of standards to a six category point system with possible high score of 100. The six categories are: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, Innovation in Design.
Of course, LEED certification is just one way for organizations to advertise their green credentials. Other more visible practices are sprouting in all major cities. Green rooftops, large solar panel arrays and water reclaiming devices are just a few common tends.
Hesitancy holding some back
Despite the winds of change, many construction companies haven’t fully realized the potential of becoming a green business. While there have been a number of key leaders when it comes to green construction, many companies have remained resistant—not eager to change entrenched practices or failing to see the returns on investments.
While large companies are quicker to gain green credentials, smaller companies sometimes struggle with the initial costs of greener practices and certification. Luckily the USGBC is there to help projects become LEED certified and their website has a variety of resources to use.
Like with leading-edge technology though, the sooner companies take advantage of the long-term benefits the green building movement has to offer, the better positioned they will be in the marketplace. And companies will find they will more than satisfy their ROI demands.
Still finding it difficult to rationalize adopting greener building practices? The above mentioned USGBC study states that “Total U.S. earnings related to LEED building construction projects are estimated to total $8.4 billion by 2018,” and “By 2018, green construction will account for more than 3.3 million U.S. jobs—more than one-third of the entire U.S. construction sector—and generate $190.3 billion in labor earnings.”
These projections show that embracing the green movement is not just responsible business, it’s also good business.
How is your company adopting greener construction practices?