Research Predicts a Substantial Growth in Green Projects over the Next 10 Years


WAYLAND, MA – Certified green building projects are on the rise and a future where sustainable residential developments are the norm may not be too far away.

"If we can ever get this communicated to the building industry, I can't imagine building anything any different," Jim Regan, a developer with Energy Smart Home Builders, the developer for Prairie Ridge Estates, a 132-unit net-zero subdivision in New Lenox, IL, recently told The Zweig Letter, the flagship publication of ZweigWhite.

"Green building is the only bright spot of building right now," says Jason LaFleur, a project manager with the Alliance for Environmental Sustainability, a third-party verifier for LEED homes.

According to Bryan Jackson, a green and sustainable construction adjunct professor at the University of Southern California and the editor of Green Building Update, recent research predicts a 900 percent growth in certified green projects worldwide in the next 10 years. Specifically, Green Building Certification Programs by Pike Research 2010 estimates that certified green building projects will grow from 6 billion square feet this year to 53 billion square feet worldwide by 2020, with almost 20 percent of these projects coming from the residential sector.

"LEED-ND fits squarely with this projected worldwide growth in certified green projects," notes Jackson. "This third-party green rating systems will verify that a neighborhood meets important green and sustainable goals, which should result in higher property values, higher rental rates, lower operating costs, and a better quality of life and health."

Projects certifying under LEED-ND must achieve points in three major environmental categories—smart location and linkage, neighborhood pattern and design, and green infrastructure and buildings—across a 110-point scale.

The Urban Land Institute and the Brookings Institution have published demographic data showing younger buyers are more interested in living in urban-like settings, not suburbs. That's exactly what LEED-ND is trying to attain with a standard that "encourages new urbanism, smart growth and higher density," explains Richard Taylor, principal with Richard Taylor Architects.

The possible biggest challenge for LEED-ND is that self-sufficient neighborhoods don't sprout overnight with all the commerce, housing and accessibility that makes them desirable. Add to that that many blighted urban areas don't currently have the infrastructure to support this kind of new development, and it becomes clear that private developers and public agencies will have to work more closely to make the green neighborhood of the future happen.

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