How the Recession Means More Green Buildings (and Why That’s Good for the Economy)

Can a bad economy save the planet?

Let’s be honest, construction companies and home builders are facing terrible times.  New building construction has ground to a halt and the subprime mortgage fiasco resulted in plummeting home values, leaving many builders with homes that were worth less than the cost of construction.   The longer the recession - some say through 2010, some say longer - the more companies will have to lay off employees or go under altogether.  There’s not much of a silver lining to this dark cloud, but one good thing looks to come out of it.  The green building market, which had been slowly increasing its share of the overall construction market prior to the market slowdown, is poised to provide a much needed spark in the construction market through a new public works program proposed by Barack Obama that will include a focus on energy efficiency in buildings.  With a national movement toward green building practices, there is a very real possibility that once the current recession is over, the majority of new commercial buildings and houses will be much more energy efficient, sustainable, and healthier than current building standards.

An Opportunity for Change

For those with long term vision, a market slowdown can be good for an industry.  It is an opportunity for a reevaluation of business practices.  When things are going well, there’s no incentive to change, even if those changes can mean greater energy efficiency and more of a focus on sustainability and health.  But a slowdown gives companies not only the time to research new innovations but the financial incentive to seek new revenue streams.  Consumer behavior is trending green, with 73% saying they would pay more for products that are better for the environment and 89% saying they’d pay more for products that will reduce heating and cooling costs, according to a survey done by the Opinion Research Corporation.

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