LEED registration soars overseas and continues to edge upward in the United States, but growth seems to be slowing, prompting a concern that progress in green building must accelerate mightily to counter the threats posed by climate change, according to the latest Green Building Market and Impact Report.
GreenBiz.com released the report today by green building expert Rob Watson, a senior contributor to GreenBiz and the founding chairman of the LEED Steering Committee.
The data-rich study by Watson, his fourth annual report in a series that began in 2008, charts the progress of registration and certification under the market-leading green building rating and assessment system, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards of the U.S. Green Building Council.
Here are some of the key findings in Watson's new report:
- LEED certification to reach 2 billion square feet soon. It took about 10 years for LEED to hit the 1-billion mark, but certification is expected to reach 2 billion square feet in 2012.
- Overall growth seen, but not as much or as fast previous years. Registration domestically and abroad grew 45 percent, "though not quite up to the levels of the three-year "bubble" of LEED registrations between 2007 and 2009," Watson found.
- Market penetration is climbing, with impressive international growth. LEED registrations rose by 53 percent overseas and 39 percent in the United States in the past year.
- Certifications continue to be another story. Certifications, the number of projects that complete the ratings process, are hovering around the 35 percent level and grew by just under 3 percent in the past year. "Although LEED certification grew by 2.6 percent overall compared with last year's record -- indeed, more than a third of all LEED floor area ever certified in the history of the system was certified in 2011 -- we were expecting more," Watson said in his report.
Despite the mixed results from this year's research, Watson said during a webcast today that it does show progress and promise for the future of green buildings.
"Green building is becoming statistially significant," Watson said. "In the past, we've had a hard time proving the business case [for LEED certification]."
Now, what it comes down to, he continued, is "if you're not making more money with your green building, you need a new marketing department. Similarly, if you're not getting your green building coming in at zero-cost -- or very low single-digit extra costs -- then you probably need a new design team as well."
Designing green buildings and retrofitting existing structures can go along toward combatting climate change. Below is a projection of how greener buildings can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from energy use :
Next page: LEED Buildings' water impacts, plus results of a green building survey