Greenbuild 2009: Research Explores Buildings' Impact on Jobs, Water, Real Estate

Greenbuild 2009: Research Explores Buildings' Impact on Jobs, Water, Real Estate

The trickle of reports released in the past week has officially grown to a flood.

GreenerBuildings.com last week released its Green Building Market and Impact Report for 2009, the second-annual look at how LEED-certified facilities are affecting energy, water and land use and employee productivity.

Soon thereafter, Jones Lang LaSalle released the results of its third annual survey on real estate and sustainability. The study, which we covered earlier this week, found that building owners are still highly likely to invest in greening the buildings they own, if less likely to do so for rented facilities.

Now that Greenbuild is officially underway (you can read all our coverage at GreenerBuildings.com/Greenbuild2009), there are even more reports hitting the wires today.{related_content}

First up, the U.S. Green Building Council released in partnership with Booz Allen Hamilton its "Green Jobs Study," which predicts that the green building industry will be responsible for the creation or support of 7.9 million jobs in the next four years, contributing $554 billion to the U.S. GDP during the same time frame.

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As the report's authors lay out the need for this research in the introduction:

Local and national policymakers increasingly view green construction and renovation activities as an opportunity to spur domestic job creation because these jobs cannot be outsourced to other countries and require workers with new and traditional skills.

To better understand the domestic job potential from green buildings, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) asked Booz Allen to estimate the number of jobs associated with this market. Recent newspaper articles and studies have tried to estimate the total number of “green collar jobs” that will be created from various national energy proposals, but few studies have focused exclusively on green building employment opportunities.

This study contributes to this effort by calculating the number of jobs created by the green building construction market between 2000 and 2008. It also forecasts the number of jobs that will be created from 2009–2013 based on estimates published by McGraw Hill and our own projections of the demand for LEED certified buildings.

The figure below shows the findings, both in terms of already-extant impacts and projected impacts.

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Another research report released at Greenbuild this year homes in on one specific area that green buildings have been shown to have significant impacts: water use.

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The "Green Buildings + Water Performance" study published today by Building Design + Construction magazine (and available for download from BDCNetwork.com [PDF]), is the latest in an annual series of reports focused on the impacts of the green building industry.

In looking at water usage in facilities, the report's authors found the following sobering news for the state of the nation's water:

1. Virtually every region of the U.S. and parts of most states likely will experience water shortages in the next 10 years. Some are already feeling the effects of water scarcity.

2. More water is consumed outside buildings and homes -- for landscape irrigation and cooling towers -- than is used inside for toilets, faucets, showers, and the like.

3. Somewhere between 15% and 20% of the nation's water never makes it from the filtration plant to the property line, thanks to our decaying infrastructure.

But in the course of the detailed look at how the country's buildings use, and waste, water, the authors lay out a 21-point action plan for how to maximize water efficiency in public, private and residential buildings. Among the guidelines on offer in the report:

What Building Teams Can Do:
Design buildings to reduce cooling load;
Design water and drain lines for optimal performance;
Get the landscape architect involved early in the job.

What Building Owners Can Do:
Engage in water management planning;
Conduct water audits.

Finally, Autodesk today released a study of its Rapid Energy Modeling (REM) software toolkit, a workflow using three of the company's building-design software programs that can create an accurate and clear picture of the energy used in a building, whether as part of the design phase for a new facility or in order to assess the energy savings of a planned retrofit of an existing building.

The graphic below lays out the workflow detailed in Autodesk's REM toolkit; the executive summary and full report are available from Autodesk.com.

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With two days still remaining in Greenbuild 2009, the reports released today only scratch the surface of the information and innovation on offer. To read about some of the partnerships and products that have been unveiled at the conference so far, read "Greenbuild 2009: Of Certifications, Solar and Smart Grid."