START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x
1,353,632 people care about Politics

Green Construction is Here to Stay

Green Construction is Here to Stay

A few years ago, when the recession first hit and the stimulus was still being worked out, there was talk of building a new, greening economy. Everything was abuzz with this idea. Even my local university engineering program made a major transition, aiming to become a national leader in green design. Three years later, the job market remains stagnant, and new construction and infrastructure work remain low. From what I’ve seen in news reports, the green economy has not quite met its promise.

On the other hand, it hasn’t been a total flop. According to a survey from McGraw-Hill Construction (a summary of which is available here with registration), green construction is now a significant portion 0f new residential construction, making up 17% of 2011 work by cost. They’re projecting a five-fold increase as the building market continues its upswing, anticipating that one-quarter of residential construction will be “green” by 2016. (Green in this context refers to LEED certified or equivalent building standards.)

Of course the future is ever uncertain, but if these projections are accurate, an upswing in the economy will take an upswing in green construction with it. There are a number of details in the survey that particularly caught my attention:

The cost of green construction has decreased. It’s long been known that greening your home can save one a significant amount in utility costs. But the upfront investment can scare away many homeowners if it doesn’t pay for itself on a relatively short time-scale. Since costs have come down, the length of time to recoup the extra costs is becoming shorter, which means it’s becoming attractive to more people.

Of course, more far-sighted individuals have been reaping the benefits of improved construction quality and energy for years. But it’s nice that the average person is starting to catch on. Not mentioned in the study is that energy itself is likely to become more expensive as time goes on, at least in some regions of the country. Thus the savings from improved efficiency will also become more significant.

Builders are finding green construction sells. Both builders and remodelers report the ability to conform to green standards is good for business. It goes to show the power of the consumer. If there’s a demand for a service, market forces will push service-providers to meet that demand.

Environmental reasons also don’t rank highly as the motivators. Instead, improved building quality and energy savings are convincing people to spend a little more upfront.

Green retro-fitting is also up. Remodellers are reporting much the same thing. In fact, it seems home-owners are willing to spend more on remodelling to green standards than buyers on new construction. Builders report home-owners will pay about 3% more for green standards, while remodellers say home-owners are willing to pay 5% more for green standards.

I wonder if this means that people who have already been in a house for a while and are familiar with their energy bills find it easier to picture the financial benefit in practical terms. It may be too abstract for some individuals who are moving into a home for the first time, and yet to pay a single utility bill for it.

With Congress opposing Obama on almost everything, coming to an agreement will be difficult. But it would be nice to see them get together and see about creating more public jobs by greening public infrastructure. After all, why not take the people who are stuck on unemployment anyway, and get them involved in worthwhile work that will actually end up saving money in the long run? It seems crazy to me that we can’t even get a bi-partisan agreement on something as obvious as that.

Related stories:

U.S. Army Officially Adopts Green Building Practices

Top Industry Experts: Green Energy is a Smart Investment

Renewable Energy Cuts Unemployment In Half

Read more: , , , , , , , , ,

Photo credit: Dontworry

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it

43 comments

+ add your own
11:17AM PST on Jan 3, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

9:09PM PST on Feb 23, 2012

good news

5:38AM PST on Feb 23, 2012

Continued:

Learn about local incentives by searching this Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

Learn more about geothermal heating and cooling from Climate Master.

5:37AM PST on Feb 23, 2012

I wish that there is a too-much-characters warning. Continued:

Various local, state and federal incentives exist to encourage the use of efficient windows and doors, insulation, roofing, HVAC (including geothermal ground source heat pumps) water heaters (including solar water heaters) andalternative energy technologies, like solar power, geothermal heating and cooling, biomass stoves, small wind turbines and even fuel cells.

5:35AM PST on Feb 23, 2012

Links in the first paragraph corrected:

Green building pros are setting up shop all across the country, so they're getting easier to find. The Department of Energy certifies Energy Star home performance contractors, who are trained to improve energy efficiency in residential homes. (Be careful: many state and federal incentives require that the work be done by a certified contractor -- so check the rules before hiring anyone.) Ask potential contractors about their interest in and experience with going green, and find out if they are approved for work that qualifies for a green home label.

5:32AM PST on Feb 23, 2012

Green building pros are setting up shop all across the country, so they're getting easier to find. The Department of Energy certifies Energy Star home performance contractors/a, who are trained to improve energy efficiency in residential homes. (Be careful: many state and federal incentives require that the work be done by a certified contractor - so check the rules before hiring anyone.) Ask potential contractors about their interest in and experience with going green, and find out if they are approved for work that qualifies for agreen home label.

Whereas most incentives for energy efficiency improvements are capped at $1,500 - incentives for most household alternative energies cover fully 30% of the cost of, with no cap.

Various local state and federal incentives exist to encourage the use of efficient windows and doors, insulation,

9:59AM PST on Feb 17, 2012

good news thanks

7:51PM PST on Feb 16, 2012

Great news ...long overdue !

5:49PM PST on Feb 16, 2012

God i hope so.

4:06PM PST on Feb 16, 2012

As I was saying... In a similar way, the Confederate raider Alabama was ravaging Union shipping before and after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Those in the North critical of Lincoln for issuing a proclamation he had absolutely no way to enforce suggested that he could solve the other problem by proclaiming the Alabama sunk. Mandates made in the absence of viable alternatives are much the same, and this is a primary reason that there is so much resistance to 'green'.

Adam Smith's invisible hand is still hard at work. The combined motivations of those philosophically committed to the environment, improved cost-effectiveness, the need to reduce dependence on hostile countries for energy, and 'green' products that actually work rather than the expensive flops of years past will make it happen. Mandates won't. Subsidizing handpicked winners who lose anyway won't. Letting those who can do it, do it, will make it happen.

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

The 1😈% 'ers (or close to it) truly believe unlimited $ will buy them safety and quarters above…

Ron B- Green Star Good Sir, Green Star! What I find so funny is how many times I have read here so many…

Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!
ads keep care2 free

more from causes

Animal Welfare

Causes Canada

Causes UK

Children

Civil Rights

Education

Endangered Wildlife

Environment & Wildlife

Global Development

Global Warming

Health Policy

Human Rights

LGBT rights

Politics

Real Food

Trailblazers For Good

Women's Rights




Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.