Green is the new black. The architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry is now fully onboard with this trend, with the number of green schemes set to soar in the next few years, according to a new report.


The World Green Building Trends 2018 SmartMarket Report reveals that nearly half (47%) of architects, engineers and builders expect to ‘go green’ on the majority (more than 60%) of their projects by 2021.


The UK is currently 13th out of 20 countries for eco-building, but there are signs that the appetite for green schemes is increasing. Earlier this year, Bloomberg’s European HQ, Britain’s greenest building, took the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize. All 4,000 Bloomberg staff are now under one roof in an office which has cut its energy consumption by 35%.


The report suggests that the UK will see a 40% rise in green schemes by 2021.


Green buildings a ‘triple win’

Chris Nelson, President of Commercial HVAC for Carrier, premier sponsor of the study, said that green buildings are a “triple win”, helping to reduce operating costs, improve indoor air quality and cut energy consumption.


Donna Laquidara-Carr, Ph.D., LEED AP, Industry Insights Research Director with Dodge Data & Analytics, which published the report, went a bit deeper into the business benefits: “These benefits include 8% operating cost savings in the first year and increased building asset values of 7% for new green buildings, which are clearly influencing all those who do green building to deepen their engagement with green.”


Significantly, these bottom-line and balance-sheet benefits are available without an elevated construction cost. It has long been a misconception that green buildings take more time and money to build, but this fallacy has started to go out of fashion, the report indicates.


Other barriers to environmentally friendly building in the UK are high land values and a lack of demand from office occupiers.


Desire to build healthier buildings

One of the key drivers of the green push was the improved occupant health and wellbeing and increased worker productivity. Other social impacts becoming increasingly important include creating a sense of community and supporting the domestic economy.


It’s now widely recognised that employers have a responsibility over their employees’ health and wellbeing. Green buildings enable businesses to make a positive impact in this area from day one. Then, once the building is up and running, they can extend the idea of healthier workplaces by designing offices that make wellbeing a “default choice”, as two experts in the field put it.


Positioning water coolers at the other end of the office, reducing the size of plates in office kitchens, and creating digital-free zones. All ideas put forward in a new book, aimed at architects, which would help “nudge” people towards decisions that benefit themselves, according to the book’s authors Dr Michael O’Neill and Rex Miller.


What do you think? Do buildings hold the key to a healthier future?


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