ConstructionPro Week, Volume: Construction Advisor Today - Issue: 140 - 01/06/2012

Global Green Building Industry to Continue Rebounding: Yudelson

By Steve Rizer


Expect the global green building industry to continue rebounding in 2012 despite ongoing economic difficulties in most developed countries, according to green building consultant Jerry Yudelson. This is one of 10 green building “megatrends” that he foresees for this year.


There had been a slowdown in commercial real estate, and the end of recovery funding put a crimp in new green building projects, said Yudelson, principal of the Tucson, Ariz.-based green building consulting company Yudelson Associates. However, he believes that green building will flourish in 2012, using new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) project registrations as a proxy for this growth.


“The reduction in commercial real estate building has not been offset by other sectors, such as government construction, which continued to falter, and so the growth rate of new green building projects fell dramatically in 2010 and 2011,” Yudelson said. “In 2011, LEED in new construction accounted for about 20 percent of all put-in-place space, with domestic LEED project registrations up almost 40 percent versus depressed 2010 levels.”


Yudelson sees faster growth in green retrofits, ongoing college and university projects, and non-governmental-organization activity as serving to backstop the fall in commercial and governmental construction. In addition, growth is expected to surge in China and other fast-growing economies.


Other trends Yudelson envisions are the following:

  • Green building will continue to benefit from the Obama presidency, with a strengthened focus on greening the executive branch. A commitment to a minimum of LEED Gold for all new federal projects and a focus on major energy-efficiency renovations highlight this trend.
  • The focus of the green building industry will continue its switch from new building design and construction to greening existing buildings. One fast-growing LEED rating system the past two years has been LEED for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance with cumulative floor area in certifications now greater than in existing buildings, and I expect this trend to pick up in 2012. One driver of this megatrend is that green buildings have rents and asset prices that are significantly higher than those documented for conventional office space, Yudelson noted, citing recent academic research on commercial buildings.
  • 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.
  • The global green building movement will continue to accelerate as more countries begin to create their own green building incentives and develop their own green building councils. More than 90 countries with incipient or established green building organizations on all continents will show considerable green building growth in 2012. “We’re seeing strong growth in China, other places in Asia, Brazil, Eastern Europe, South Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula countries. For the first time in 2011, more LEED-registered projects are in progress outside the U.S., up more than 50 percent compared to 2010 levels and representing 44 percent of all new LEED projects.”
  • Zero-net-energy designs for new buildings will become increasingly commonplace, in both residential and commercial sectors, as LEED and Energy Star certifications and labels become too commonplace to confer competitive advantage. Developers of speculative commercial buildings will begin to showcase zero-net-energy designs and intentions.
  • Performance disclosure will be the fastest emerging trend, highlighted by new requirements in California, Seattle, and other locations. Commercial building owners will have to disclose actual building performance to all new tenants and buyers and in some places to the public at large. This trend is already established in Australia, for example, and will spread rapidly as the easiest way to monitor carbon emissions from existing commercial and governmental buildings.
  • Green buildings will increasingly be managed in the “cloud” as witnessed by the large number of new entrants and new products in fields of building automation, facility management, wireless controls, and information technology in 2011.
  • Local and state governments will step up their mandates for green buildings for both themselves and the private sector. “We’ll see at least 20 major new cities with commercial sector green building mandates, mostly in the ‘blue’ states. The desire to reduce carbon emissions by going green will lead more government agencies, universities, hospitals, and corporate owners to require green buildings.”
  • Solar power use in buildings will continue to grow with the prospect of increasing utility focus on aggressive state-level renewable power standards and goals for 2020. As before, third-party financing partnerships will continue to grow and provide capital for large rooftop systems such as on warehouses and big box retail stores. “However, we may very well see a slowing of large solar and wind systems as federal-grant and loan-guarantee support, in lieu of tax credits, is phased out in 2012.”

In gauging the trends for 2012, Yudelson drew upon his conversations with green building industry leaders in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Australia over the last year.

Yudelson Provides Additional Details to GBI

In an email interview with Green Building Insider (GBI), Yudelson provided the following additional comments:

GBI: Can you disclose which 20 cities, or at least the identities of the blue states in which the cities are predominantly located, will institute new green building mandates this year? What specific requirements are they expected to adopt?

Yudelson: Various LEED initiatives including legislation, executive orders, resolutions, ordinances, policies, and incentives are found in 442 localities (384 cities/towns and 58 counties and across 45 states), in 34 state governments (including the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico), in 14 federal agencies or departments, and numerous public school jurisdictions and institutions of higher education across the United States. (

GBI: When you predict that green buildings increasingly will be managed in the cloud, will this occur primarily in newly constructed structures, or will this take place primarily in existing buildings? Will this trend occur primarily in the commercial sector?

Yudelson: A majority of the green building action is taking place in existing buildings, owing to the slowdown in new construction during the recession and the sheer number of existing buildings. Last year, the total square footage of LEED-certified existing buildings surpassed the total of new construction certified buildings for the first time ever.

GBI: When you predict that more than 90 countries with green building councils will show considerable green building growth in 2012, what projected statistical information, if any, can you provide to support this expectation? What about growth in countries without green building councils?

Yudelson: Most of the action is going where there are green building councils, with the exception of commercial construction in some European countries where there are not yet green building councils but where the commercial sector is driving green construction, renovation, and retrofit. Check for a list of the countries with green building councils.

GBI: In which countries will there be the greatest need to incorporate water-saving measures into their buildings? How active will the government and industry sectors be on this front in the U.S.?

Yudelson: Australia, the U.S., the Middle East, and most of the developing world have the worst water-supply problems.

GBI: In your opinion, which trend/s do you believe ought to take place within the green building community and be included on the list but will not? Why is it important for such a trend to occur? What is preventing such a trend from occurring? 

Yudelson: None that I can think of.

GBI: How accurate have you been in recent years in forecasting green-building trends? What is the methodology you use to make these forecasts? 

Yudelson: Trends already exist. What I show is those that are rapidly growing.




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