Schools Are the Hottest Green Building Market

Schools Are the Hottest Green Building Market

McGraw-Hill Construction has released the latest issue of its SmartMarket Report series, finding that the education sector is the fastest-growing market for green building, good news for the industry, given that education construction is the largest construction sector, by value, at $53 billion for 2007.

McGraw-Hill detailed its findings of market research into green building in the report, which was co-sponsored by the Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) were co-sponsors of the report.

McGraw-Hill focused on the education sector because of the specific sensitivities children have to indoor air pollutants and environments, as well as the amount of time students (at the K-12 and university levels) spend in these buildings.

"The results are very exciting. Given the fact that education construction is worth $53 billion overall and the market indicators point to strong green building growth in this sector, we expect the green building share to be significant in five years," stated Harvey M. Bernstein, McGraw- Hill Construction vice president of Industry Analytics, Alliances and Strategic Initiatives. "Research like this will help shed light on this important area of green building - and help us to make the case to truly provide our nation's students with environments that will maximize their learning."

Thomas A. Kube, CEO of CEFPI, concurred: "The findings in the SmartMarket Report are important because they confirm a lot of what we thought about the challenges and advantages of green schools. Our members have been increasingly aware of the importance of high-performance schools, and we will continue to use our High Performance Schools Symposium as a forum to help in the building and maintenance of more efficient and healthy schools."

The study also found that:
  • the concern for "improved health and well-being" was the most critical social reason for driving education green building -- a factor that was not as highly rated in MHC's prior research into the commercial and residential green building markets;
  • fiscal advantages of green building, such as energy cost savings, are the major motivation behind the building of green schools and universities;
  • higher first costs are the primary challenge to building green in this sector, though recent studies by Capital E and Davis Langdon point to minor increases in first cost increases, which are more than recouped in operational cost savings;
  • "operational cost decreases" resulting from green building are the most important trigger to faster adoption of green school building;
  • there is a strong need for access to and information on green building products, particularly those relating to improving health, such as reducing mold and indoor air pollutants;
  • across the board, the industry is calling for independent, third-party standards for green building products.
"Following on the fiscal advantages of green schools found in the recent study by Capital E, the research in the Education Green Building SmartMarket Report on market perceptions and sizing provides more reasons to make this a priority green building market," said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO of USGBC. "More importantly, though, it's the right thing to do for our future generations."

The research results contained in the Education Green Building SmartMarket Report were drawn from two phases of study. The first phase looked at the perceptions of "green leaders" as defined as owners and facility managers/operators of green schools and universities. The second phase was a survey of a broader representation of school construction professionals as represented by the membership of CEFPI.

Though the key results were consistent among both phases of studies, there were some differences. For example, green leaders see factors such as "publicity," "mission statement incorporation" and "staff demand" as important triggers, indicating their view of increased green building coming from factors that make the process for green building easier. On the other hand, the broader educational facility planning community emphasizes important triggers as ones that are measurable outcomes of green building such as "increased health & well-being," "energy cost increases" and "productivity benefits."