How higher ed helps shape the future of green building

In spite of its growth, green building often has to defend its right to exist.

In today's business case-driven industry, questions such as how the investment is justified and the length of ROI are posed with preconceived notions of green building costing more than projected and offering less than promised.

Therefore, it's worth listening to what the U.S. education sector has learned from its green building efforts.

In 2012, despite a 39 percent decline in education sector-related construction, the growth in its total green share was estimated to be $16 billion, almost double the 2008 green education market, according to the new report from McGraw-Hill Construction, "New and Retrofit Green Schools: The Cost Benefits and Influence of a Green School."

According to the report, in this year the education sector accounted for 8 percent of all construction starts and 24 percent of total non-residential construction starts (see chart below).

Last year, my organization, Second Nature, contributed to McGraw-Hill Construction's new SmartMarket Report on green building in K-12 and higher education. As it provides a crucial insight into how the education sector has evolved into a mature market for green buildings while paving a path for others, we decided to take a deeper look into its findings.


What follows are the highlights of a conversation I had with Donna Laquidara-Carr, editor of the report. In our conversation, we looked at emerging trends and gaps in the green building market, specifically within higher education.

Next page: Q&A with Donna Laquidara-Carr