Green Building Flourishing in Rough Housing Market
With real estate struggling to shake off the effect of the worst US recession since the Great Depression, one sector of the market is flourishing. Green building has become increasingly popular, especially with so many people struggling to make ends meet. The sector now accounts for a third of all new construction in the US, a staggering jump from the 2 percent it accounted for in 2005. Much of the progress achieved in this area can be attributed to the efforts of the US Green Building Council, which was founded in 1993.
The USGBC, based in Washington, DC, is just one of a handful of organizations running a green-rating program,but its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program is one of the strictest in the residential market and all but dominates the commercial sector. The total number of homes receiving LEED approval went from 1,150 in 2008 to 3,000 last year. Homes and commercial structures receive points for things like water conservation, energy efficiency, air quality, durability, location, and other factors.
Industry insiders say that the LEED system was a stroke of genius as it has gotten a staunch industry to begin a shift from old ways with nothing more than a clever marketing pitch. Many universities, hospitals, and other institutions have vowed to seek LEED approval on all new expensive buildings. The company reportedly earned $107 million last year, of which $42 million came from their process of accrediting professionals in the industry. There are over 150,000 contractors, architects, and others who have passed a USGBC test and are designated as LEED “accredited professionals” or “green associates”.