Columnists: Mahesh Ramanujam, Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI

Published on: 2 May 2017

Green buildings – A global vision

Global green building continues to double every three years, and green buildings yield a 7 percent increase in asset value over traditional ones. At the U.S. Green Building Council, and our sister organization Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), these facts underpin our vision of market transformation as an achievable construct - and I want to be the leader that takes this to scale at an accelerated pace. Green makes perfect business sense.

GBCI is a global organization, independently recognizing excellence in green business industry performance and practice in more than 165 countries and territories around the world.  We may be global but we are also local. We know that everything is local - the choices we make in our own homes, businesses and communities are the first step in the effort to reduce our environmental impact and create new economic opportunities.

Local means engagement and community; connection to the real work on the ground, the people and the policymakers. That is why GBCI is expanding in an effort to drive adoption of green building and business practices around the world. Earlier this year, we announced GBCI incorporation in India and on 27 April, we announced GBCI Europe.  

Europe has been a leader of the green building market for a long time and we are continuing to see tremendous interest and support for the LEED green building program in the region. Market transformation happens one project a time, and Europe has an opportunity to continue to drive sustainability at a global scale. By establishing a local GBCI presence in Europe, we will serve to further facilitate the global growth of a sustainable built environment locally and across the globe.

According to the 2016 Dodge Data & Analytics Smart Market Study on World Green Building Trends, Europe is poised for even greater expansion of green buildings in the coming years. The study found that over 60 percent of respondents anticipate that their projects will be green by 2018 and over a five-year period respondents expect 14 percent operational savings for new green buildings and 13 percent operations savings for existing buildings, the bulk of Europe’s building stock.

Across Europe, the green share of building project activity is 28 percent. Germany and Poland are leaders in the green building market, with 35 percent and 34 percent market shares respectively. In Germany, business benefits such as improved 10-year costs and higher rents, as well as market demand, are driving growth. In Poland, we anticipate that growth will be dominated by the commercial sector and motivated by business benefits.

Business is a key driver. More than regulation, client demand is now cited as the top trigger for green building in Germany, the UK and Poland. Globally and in Europe, encouraging sustainable business is the most important social motivation for building green and reducing energy consumption as the number one environmental reason for building green.

We are leading with data and technology. Transparency drives good data, which drives good decisions. Today more than ever before, the green building movement relies on technology and data, and the future of green buildings is focused on performance. In fact, we recently launched Arc, which is a state of the art platform that buildings and even entire communities can use to input and measure their data, in real time, across a number of sustainability metrics such as water, energy, waste, transporation and human experience.

Arc represents a new era for green building, enabling projects to make more informed decisions that allow them to work towards LEED and other green rating system certifications.

With the introduction of Arc, the proliferation of green building and green business and now the incorporation of GBCI in Europe, we continue our efforts to green the built environment. GBCI Europe is made up of a fully staffed GBCI operational hub in Munich that better positions GBCI to deliver full-service onsite certification and verification, as well as in-country support to project teams. Currently, there are more than 5,200 LEED projects in Europe comprising more than 100,000,000 gross square meters of space, and over 2,500 LEED professionals in Europe.

Europe can lead a true global market transformation for the built environment, through building healthier, more sustainable communities where buildings perform at a higher level and human health and wellness is prioritized and enhanced.

Our message to the European green building movement is to get the data right, be transparent, put the business case right up front, don't be timid or hold information back. Be bold, be disruptive and make the case — remember, green makes perfect business sense.

Additional details about the growth of LEED in Europe can be found in the downloadable LEED in Motion: Europe report from U.S. Green Building Council.



Other columns by Mahesh Ramanujam