“Green.” “Sustainable.” “Eco-friendly.” These words have rapidly become a part of the modern lexicon, applied to everything from the cars we drive to the food we eat. Sometimes they’re used so often it can be hard to remember that they actually are more than just buzzwords – but they are. The environmental challenges the world faces have never been greater or more complex. Soon more than 9 billion people will share our planet; increasing demands for food, water, energy and infrastructure are pushing nature to its limits. The impact of climate change will only continue to magnify as our global population does the same. No industry should be more aware of this than construction – not only is it the top global consumer of raw materials, it also generates between 25 to 40 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.
The Construction Industry is Going Green
Fortunately, not only has the industry taken notice, it’s taken action – U.S. construction should see an increase in the share of green work in the next few years as a direct result of the growing demand for green buildings. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently released its 2015 Green Building Economic Impact Study, which notes that between 2011 and 2014 green building construction generated $167.4 billion in GDP, and was projected to account for more than 2.3 million jobs in 2015. In fact, the green building sector is outpacing the overall construction industry in growth and is estimated to maintain traction into the foreseeable future.
It’s safe to say that green building isn’t just a passing trend. But while the long-term benefits to the planet might seem obvious, are there any other (more selfish) incentives to “go green?”
Green Construction Practices Win Bids
As mentioned, companies are looking to set themselves apart and establish themselves in terms of corporate responsibility. Signs telling visitors about a building’s environmental footprint have become common place in lobbies throughout the United States.
Green Buildings Cost Less to Maintain
It’s proven that green building have lower upkeep and lower utility usage costs. Energy and water savings are perhaps the most obvious, and easiest to comprehend, benefits of green certification. Not only are you saving the planet; you’re saving the building owner money.
Green Buildings are Better for Occupants
Green Buildings are better for the long-term health and productivity of those who use the building. Occupants who moved from conventional to green office buildings were found to have reduced absenteeism as well as a positive change in health conditions such as respiratory allergies, depression, and stress.
Still finding it difficult to rationalize adopting greener building practices? The aforementioned 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.
Make Your Next Project Green
Want to find out more about green building, LEED, or the USGBC? Rice & Gardner are experts in sustainability and have LEED accredited professionals ready to answer your questions. Contact us today!