Green building and sustainable planning consultant Jerry Yudelson, PE, LEED AP, recently released his top 10 predictions for the green building industry in 2009. Yudelson, the founder and principal of Yudelson Associates, Tuscon, Ariz., has authored eight books on green building, is a frequent speaker at industry and professional conferences, and chaired the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo for four years. He has seen more people choose to pursue sustainability each year, noting "There is nothing on the horizon that will stop this trend."
Yudelson's predictions for 2009 are:
1. The green building industry will grow by more than 60 percent this year, maintaining the strong growth pattern of the past three years.
2. Green building will benefit from the Barack Obama presidency, which so far has shown a strong focus on the green economy and energy concerns. The trend will center on increasing jobs in energy efficiency, new green technologies, and renewable energy, and will continue for at least the next four years.
3. The focus of green building will begin to shift from new buildings to greening existing buildings by retrofitting, upgrading, and renovating. Yudelson says that momentum is picking up in green home retrofits, driven by green-focused media, a growing interest in cost-saving renewable energy systems, and the recent extension of tax credits and removal of the credit cap for photovoltaic systems.
4. Awareness of the coming global crisis in freshwater 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 water technologies. Mandates in certain regions of the country will be established, according to Yudelson, and he says homeowners also will increasingly do their part by installing water-conserving fixtures, restricting water use, and using rainwater catchment or gray water systems for irrigation and/or potable use.
5. LEED Platinum-rated projects will become more commonplace as building owners, designers, and construction teams learn how to design for higher levels of LEED achievement on conventional budgets. Although there are many regional and local green home building programs, LEED for Homes and the National Association of Home Builders' National Green Building Standard likely will dominate percentage-wise in residential construction, Yudelson says.
6. Solar power use in buildings will accelerate with the extension of solar energy tax credits through 2016 and the prospect of increasing utility focus on renewable power goals for 2015 and 2020. Third-party financing partnerships will continue to grow and provide capital for large rooftop systems.
7. Local governments will increasingly mandate green buildings for both themselves and the private sector. While concern over the economic impacts of green building mandates will be present, the desire to reduce carbon emissions by going green will lead more government agencies to require green building.
8. Zero net energy designs for new buildings will gain increasing acceptance in both public and private buildings. Reducing a building's energy use through design makes purchasing renewable energy to displace the remaining loads more cost-effective, Yudelson says.
9. Green homes will come to dominate new-home developments in more sections of the United States as builders increasingly view green building as giving them a competitive edge. Many green-built home developments have proven the cost-effectiveness of building green, and builders are beginning to understand that green building is about better design rather than about high-tech, high-cost systems and products, Yudelson points out.
10. European green building technologies will become better-known and more widely adopted in the United States and Canada as more European architects and engineers open offices in the U.S., Yudelson says.
Yudelson's predictions are the result of many conversations with green building leaders in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and the Middle East, he says.