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Green building market shapeshifters

 |  09/17/10 @ 10:46am

With GreenBuild 2010 (November 17-19) on the horizon, which is always accompanied by a flurry of reporting, research and projections for the green building market, I have been thinking about what factors will most influence the green building marketplace over the next 12 months.  As in any situation analysis, one must accept certain definitions of the current market place, with that in mind I am treating the state of the overall economy and its effect on the construction industry as a constant at least for the near future. So within the current reality of the sustainable building design, construction and operations what are the five most impactful stories to watch? 1. Legislation: CalGreen The California Building Standards Commission adopted the nation's first mandatory statewide green building code on January 12, 2010. CALGreen will take effect in California on January 1, 2011 along with the other 11 published parts of the 2010 version of Title 24, the California Building Standards Code. It will be important to watch both the market reaction to the new code and to see how other states look to follow suit or remain at status quo. 2. Financing:: PACE The excitement and hope for residential energy efficiency programs across the country seemed to all take a collective body blow this summer.  The announcement in July by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae that PACE financing would not be underwritten by their organizations halted a great deal of momentum in the residential marketplace.  The two mortgage giants also indicated that they will not purchase mortgages secured by properties subject to PACE obligations that provide for first lien priority. With numerous lawsuits having been filed against Freddie and Fannie's position and Congress potentially weighing in with legislation, the final chapters on the PACE program have not been written yet.  Will another creative form of financing evolve to take the place of the PACE program? 3. Standards: FTC Green Guides While probably more of a personal issue of mine, I do believe that the upcoming release of the revised "Green Guides" by the FTC will have both near and long term ramifications on the green building product market.  I anticipate that the new guidelines will support more clarity within the product labeling and certifications arena. 4. Performance: USGBC Performance Initiative A year ago, touched off by some national media attention,the LEED certification process came under scrutiny for certified buildings not performing up to the "standards".  The USGBC has moved to address this issue with its Building Performance Partnership Initiative. The success of this initiative could bring a whole new level of market acceptance to green building techniques and certainly a foster more accessible actual performance data which I believe the market is definitely hungry to receive.  The BPP Initiative was recently expanded; the USGBC has opened the program to all current whole-building LEED-Certified commercial and residential projects.   5. Corporate Attitudes towards Sustainability/CSR It has been encouraging to watch the growing momentum for overall corporate sustainability programs and some of the related certification programs that have been introducing more accessible tools and entry points in the market place.  As a significant component of corporate sustainability, the green building market should continue to benefit from overall organizational strategies and programs. I would think that in the coming year, we will see even more collaboration between CSR and Green Building standards, associations and consultants.  Tim Mohin at GreenBiz.com recently made a great case for CSR in response to the Wall Street Journal recently critical article.

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