Many observers want to know where the green building market is heading, but if anyone is studying it in a truly scientific way, they’re keeping the results to themselves. Online surveys are a common way of gathering data on the cheap, and results from three such surveys were released at Greenbuild 2007 in Chicago in November. Despite small sample sizes and some vague questions, the results offer a reality check for the green building market.
All three surveys were conducted online, which means that those who have a strong position to share are most likely to respond—though in some cases the researchers offered incentives to offset this trend. Only one report, from
Building Design & Construction
) magazine, provided its response rates. The other two—one from Autodesk and The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the other from the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International and Real Estate Media—each had just under 400 respondents from an undisclosed sample size.
s “Green Buildings Research White Paper” includes the results of its fourth annual survey, sent to a sampling of its mailing list and returned by 630 respondents, for a 6.3% response rate. The ability to track responses to the same questions over the past four years makes the
survey more useful than most. It reveals trends one might expect, such as a steady—but not dramatic—increase in the respondents’ self-reported experience with green projects. Along similar lines, the number of respondents who reported having “trouble sourcing or obtaining green building products” dropped from 55% to 31% over the four years.
In spite of persistent claims to the contrary from green advocates, 86% of respondents believe that it costs more to build a green building—and not just by a little. Most of those said at least 6% more, and a large group said over 15% more! For comparison, data reported in past issues of
suggests that an experienced team can deliver a green building for a 0%–2% premium. Nevertheless, the number of respondents who predicted that green building activity in their firm would increase in the next two to three years grew significantly.
The two other surveys contain much less usable information, either because the questions are too vague (AIA/Autodesk), or because the response options were poorly selected (BOMA). The AIA/Autodesk report, for example, highlights the choice of “high-efficiency HVAC systems” as the most important green design option but failed to define “high efficiency” or acknowledge that it is a moving target. On a more specific question—“Do you currently measure the carbon footprint of your projects?”—a surprisingly high 10% answered “yes.”
The BOMA study found that 91% of companies have “0% to 25%” of their building stock LEED certified, which is hardly actionable information. More interesting is the fact that green facilities of BOMA respondents are nearly 70% offices, as opposed to other building types, and those offices are roughly evenly split between downtown and suburban locations.
For more information:
Green Buildings Research White Paper, October 2007
Available at www.bdcnetwork.com (registration required)
The 2007 Autodesk/AIA Green Index, November 2007
Available at www.autodesk.com/green
The 2007 Green Survey:
Available at www.globest.com/images/greensurveyresults07.pdf
January 1, 2008
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