Schools Remain Fertile Market For Green Building Methods

In a recent report, McGraw-Hill Construction confirms that the education sector – projected at $53 billion for 2007 – remains the fastest-growing market

In a recent report, McGraw-Hill Construction confirms that the education sector – projected at $53 billion for 2007 – remains the fastest-growing market for green building. The latest in the SmartMarket series, the report was released earlier this year at the Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) 5th Annual High Performance Schools Symposium in Scottsdale, Ariz. CEFPI and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) were co-sponsors of the report.

New York-based McGraw-Hill Construction focused on the education sector because of the specific sensitivities children have to indoor air pollutants and environments, as well as the amount of time students (at the K-12 and university levels) spend in the buildings. Given the fact that education construction is worth $53 billion overall and the market indicators point to strong green building growth in this sector, we expect the green building share to be significant in five years, says Harvey Bernstein, McGraw-Hill Construction vice president of Industry Analytics, Alliances and Strategic Initiatives. Research like this will help shed light on this important area of green building – and help us to make the case to truly provide our nation’s students with environments that will maximize their learning.

Adds CEFPI Executive Director Thomas Kube, The SmartMarket Report findings are important because they confirm a lot of what we thought about the challenges and advantages of green schools. Our members have been increasingly aware of the importance of high-performance schools, and we will continue to use our High Performance Schools Symposium as a forum to help in the building of more efficient and healthy schools.

The study also finds:

  • Concern for improved health and well-being was the most critical social reason for driving education green building Û a factor that was not as highly rated in prior commercial and residential green building market research;
  • Fiscal advantages of green building, such as energy cost savings, are the major motivation behind green school and university building;
  • Higher first costs are the primary challenge to building green in this sector, though recent studies by Capital E and Davis Langdon point to minor bumps in first cost increases, which are more than recouped in operational cost savings;
  • Operational cost decreases resulting from green building are the most important trigger to faster adoption of green school building;
  • There is a strong need for access to and information on green building products, particularly those relating to improving health, such as reducing mold and indoor air pollutants; and,
  • Across the board, the industry is calling for independent, third-party standards for green building products.

Following on the fiscal advantages of green schools found in the recent study by Capital E, the research in the Education Green Building SmartMarket Report on market perceptions and sizing provides more reasons to make this a priority green building market, says USGBC President Rick Fedrizzi.

The research results contained in the Education Green Building SmartMarket Report were drawn from two phases of study. The first phase looked at the perceptions of green leaders as defined as owners and facility managers/operators of green schools and universities. The second phase was a survey of a broader representation of school construction professionals as represented by CEFPI membership. Though key results were consistent among both phases of the studies, some differences were evident. For example, green leaders see factors such as publicity, mission statement incorporation and staff demand as important triggers, indicating their view of increased green building coming from factors that make the process for green building easier. On the other hand, the broader educational facility planning community emphasizes important triggers as ones that are measurable outcomes of green building, such as increased health & well-being, energy cost increases and productivity benefits.

Additional information on the Education Green Building SmartMarket Report or other MHC studies can be obtained by visiting, or contacting [email protected], 800/591-4462.