Environmental Protection

Studies Show Green Building Is Key to Economic Future

"As research comes in from diverse sources examining the interest in green buildings among a wide range of Americans, the numbers keep painting the same picture: The future of our built environment clearly centers on energy efficiency, water reduction, systems that encourage cleaner indoor air, the use of recycled and more sustainably developed materials, and communities that coexist with their environments," said Rick Fedrizzi, president, chief executive officer and founding chair, U.S. Green Building Council.

"Over and over again, Americans are saying the same thing: The key to a prosperous future is sustainability, and the triple bottom line – environmental responsibility, economic prosperity, and social equity – is imperative as we move forward."

According to Turner Construction Company's "Green Building Barometer," 75 percent of commercial real estate executives – including developers, rental building owners, brokers, architects, engineers and others – say the credit crunch will not discourage them from building green. In fact, 83 percent said they would be "extremely" or "very" likely to seek LEED certification for buildings they are planning to build within the next three years.

Other key findings from this and other studies, conducted over the past year include:

• 70 percent of homebuyers are more or much more inclined to buy a green home over a conventional home in a down housing market, according to McGraw-Hill Construction's 2008 SmartMarket Report, "The Green Home Consumer."

• More than 80 percent of commercial building owners have allocated funds to green initiatives this year, according to "2008 Green Survey: Existing Buildings," a survey jointly funded by Incisive Media's Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com, the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

• LEED-certified projects are directly tied to more than $10 billion of green materials, according to a Greener World Media study on green building.

• The Center for American Progress and the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in a September 2008 study, found that a national green economic recovery program investing $100 billion over 10 years in six infrastructure areas would create 2 million new jobs.

As green buildings help companies cut costs and build sound financial situations, the Center for American Progress' study shows how such green investments on a wide scale can ignite the economy of the nation as a whole. A $100 billion green infrastructure investment over 10 years, with a focus on green building retrofits and investment in alternative energy sources, could be paid for with proceeds from carbon permit auctions under a greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program. That's roughly the same amount of investment as the tax rebate checks sent as part of the April 2008 economic stimulus plan but would create 300,000 more jobs.

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