Feature Article

Finding the Green Lining: Surviving and Thriving in an Economic Downturn

January 2, 2009

The iconic American investor Warren Buffet once mused that it’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked. Headlines are full of companies who have been found without swimsuits, and their lack of caution is affecting all of us. With the incredible slowdown in much of the design and construction industry, will green building and its practitioners feel repercussions?

Green building was one of the darlings of the recently collapsed construction boom and has now been cast as the knight in shining armor for an otherwise gloomy industry. The evidence for that was on display at the November 2008 Greenbuild conference in Boston, which again saw an impressive increase in attendance, closing in on 28,000 people, along with another big jump in the number of trade show vendors, at a time when other construction trade shows are stagnant or losing business. We’ve taken to calling the hope around green building the “green lining” in the economic storm cloud.

The iconic American investor Warren Buffet once mused that it’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked. Headlines are full of companies who have been found without swimsuits, and their lack of caution is affecting all of us. With the incredible slowdown in much of the design and construction industry, will green building and its practitioners feel repercussions?

Green building was one of the darlings of the recently collapsed construction boom and has now been cast as the knight in shining armor for an otherwise gloomy industry. The evidence for that was on display at the November 2008 Greenbuild conference in Boston, which again saw an impressive increase in attendance, closing in on 28,000 people, along with another big jump in the number of trade show vendors, at a time when other construction trade shows are stagnant or losing business. We’ve taken to calling the hope around green building the “green lining” in the economic storm cloud.

In this article, we’ll examine the evidence for a green lining. We’ll look at what opportunities such a lining may present for architecture, engineering, and construction firms to succeed financially while maintaining or increasing the environmental benefits of their work.