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Green Building & Sustainable Development

Green Building Quickly Moving Mainstream

Preliminary results of a McGraw-Hill Construction/National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) survey indicated that there was a 20% increase in 2005 among those in the home building community who are focusing their attention on green, environmentally- responsible building, which is expected to increase by another 30% this year. The research findings will be issued May 15 in the Residential Green Building edition of McGraw-Hill Construction's series of SmartMarket Reports.

After several years of slow but steady growth across the country, the green home building movement -- which applies innovative and environmentally sensitive construction techniques and products to reduce energy and water consumption and improve residential comfort and safety -- is rapidly moving into the mainstream. By 2010, residential green building is expected to grow to $19 - $38 billion.

"Green home building is at a tipping point among the builder population," said Harvey Bernstein, vice president of Industry Analytics and Alliances for McGraw-Hill Construction. "The data we recently collected indicates 2006 to 2007 is the time frame from which the builder population moves from a majority less involved to more involved with green building."

To serve the growing green building market, Bernstein also noted that McGraw-Hill Construction in May will publish its first issue of GreenSource, a new magazine dedicated to the growing market for environmentally-responsible green buildings. GreenSource, with content developed in collaboration with BuildingGreen, Inc., will present news, features, case studies of important projects, and green product information to more than 40,000 architects, interior designers, building owners, and members of the U.S. Green Building Council.

A new Web site dedicated to the green building industry has already been launched, at

Ray Tonjes, chairman of the NAHB Green Building Subcommittee, noted that the study opens new ground and new business opportunities for NAHB members. "NAHB has been in the vanguard of the voluntary movement to increase the efficiency and quality of the American home," he said. "This study suggests a viable path for the home building community to educate the public about green building and deliver a product that responds to the needs of the buyer as never before."

Citing statistics from McGraw-Hill Construction's recent research study on green homebuilding, Bernstein stated that green building will boost its market share from $7.4 billion and 2% of housing starts last year to $19-$38 billion and 5%-10% of residential construction activity by 2010. "Within 10 years, every builder will be incorporating green practices into what they do," he said.

According to the survey results, the leading reason that builders are considering green is that "It's the right thing to do," Bernstein said, an indication of the industry's strong links to the community. Of those polled, 92% identified this factor as a very or somewhat important influence behind the decision to go green. Other prominent influences include: lowering lifecycle costs, such as energy efficiencies and productivity increases, 87%; staying ahead of the competition, 82%; expanding business with customers who are interested in green building, 82%; and limiting exposure to liability on such issues as water leaks and mold, 78%.

Starting costs and the unwillingness of consumers to pay additional costs for a green home were identified as the leading obstacles to firms becoming involved in green home building, rated as important by 82% and 79% of those surveyed, respectively. Also important were: uneducated consumers, 79%; codes, ordinances and regulations, 72%; and a lack of awareness among consumers of green products, 70%. Only 39% said that the perception of green building as a fad and not something here to stay was a significant obstacle.

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