If there are bright spots amidst the recent gloomy energy forecasts the National
Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and McGraw-Hill Construction may have found
Their recent joint release "Residential Green Building SmartMarket
Report" reveals an encouraging increase in the movement toward green
building - an increase that indicates that, even by conservative
estimates, green building will reach its "tipping point" next year.
The numbers are impressive; there was a 20 percent increase in the number of
home builders producing green, environmentally responsible homes in 2005 and
that number should grow by another 30 percent this year.
The study is the second that NAHB and McGraw-Hill have conducted; the first
was primarily concerned with commercial construction, but this one focused on
residential building. A representative sample of the 75,000 plus builders composing
today's homebuilding industry. Harvey M. Bernstein, Vice President, Industry
Analytics & Alliances, McGraw-Hill said that the most notable finding was
"the faster rates (at which) home builders are adopting green practices
compared to their counterparts in commercial construction."
Describing the results as "groundbreaking" Bernstein said that
they confirm the findings of a previous study that green building is moving
mainstream - that it is a growing trend.
In 2005, 31 percent of builders reported that they were more than moderately
involved with green building and some 90% of the home building community reported
participation in green building activities (although these were not defined
in the summary report.) Approximately 2 percent of the U.S. construction market
(commercial and residential) is green which translates to about a $7.2 billion
market share. The study projects that by 2010, between 5 and 10 percent of new
constructions starts (residential and commercial) will be green projects. This
will translate to between $19 and $38 billion for the residential construction
marketplace. This figure does not include green retrofitting through residential
remodeling - an area that presents huge marketing opportunities for builders
and product manufacturers.
The study found that there were several things motivating builders
to adopt green building products and techniques; the desire to "do the
right thing" which was cited by 92 percent of respondents, and lowering
lifecycle costs which was named by 87 percent. Builders named increasing energy
costs, consumer demand, and the better performance of green products as triggers
that were propelling the movement. On the other hand, builders felt that there
were obstacles to increased residential green building including the perception
that initial costs were high and, therefore, consumers were not necessarily
ready to make the investment and the lack of consumer education about green
Builders indicated that, in their view, energy efficient techniques topped
the list of important green methods (82 percent.) Indoor air quality was cited
by 66 percent of respondents as an important practice and water conversation
ranked third at 66 percent.
Ninety five percent of builders reported that they use environmentally preferable
building materials; the most frequently used product is oriented strand board
in place of plywood, mentioned by 80 percent of respondents.
Ninety percent percent of builders surveyed reported that they are working
with open space preservation techniques, most typically utilizing
techniques to minimize the disruption of existing vegetation.
Nearly all survey respondents are implementing some form of energy efficient
technology in building homes. The predominant product at present is Low-Emissivity
windows, used by 82 percent of the builders.
The study authors issued a list of recommendations to builders to increase
their successful penetration into the emerging green marketplace. Builders are
advised to become familiar with the use of green building practices over the
next two years. As it is expected that homebuyers are going to increasingly
demand green homes, builders should be able to speak intelligently to them about
the advantages of building green, not just from a cost standpoint but also by
stressing increased performance and health benefits. At the same time, builders
who are invested in green building should work with real estate agents, appraisers
and mortgage lenders to further promote green homes and with policy makers to
establish common-sense ways to build sustainable communities.
It is also suggested that builders seek out and participate in the formation
of voluntary green programs to make them workable and successful.
The report also suggests that manufacturers who are entering the market and
thus competing against established brands quickly establish the credibility
of their products as green and market them accordingly.