Heather Benjamin

Last month, USGBC announced the results of research by Dodge Data and Analytics, with which USGBC has partnered, in the World Green Building Trends 2016 SmartMarket Report. In a brief series, USGBC will highlight specific aspects of the report.

A wider sample

The first striking detail from the World Green Building Trends 2016 SmartMarket Report is the increase in the sample studied. With 1,026 people from 69 countries responding to the survey, the report offers detailed data on 27 percent more green building professionals than its last iteration did, in 2012. This expanded coverage increases the breadth and value of the insights within the study. Also, a higher proportion of architects and contractors responding to the survey means that members of green building councils are no longer the top category sharing information in the study—in 2016, there is more data from direct industry practice. 

Where we are now

The graph below breaks out the current overall share of green construction among all building projects, by nation. Countries with green building activity above the global average of 24 percent include South Africa, Singapore, India, Germany and Mexico. Many of the countries with lower levels of current green activity, however, are the same ones anticipating rapid growth in the area, as seen in the next graph.

High growth in developing nations

According to the study, the highest growth in green building is anticipated in developing markets. Moderate levels are reported in mature markets such as the United States, United Kingdom, Poland and Germany, but those surveyed from Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Chile and India indicated far higher expectations for the percentage of projects that will be certified green.

For example, Brazil estimates that in 2018, their green building activity will have grown sixfold from 2015 levels. China expects five times as many green building projects, and Saudi Arabia four times as many.

Commercial, industrial or retrofit

New commercial construction was the top sector for expected green building projects in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Poland, Saudi Arabia, China and India. The United States shared the lowest expected levels of green commercial building with Australia.

However, 46 percent of U.S. respondents indicated they expected to embark on new institutional green projects in the next three years—making institutional building the top area for green in the United States. This may be due to certification requirements for public buildings on federal and state levels and for schools on a municipal level.

Retrofit projects were ranked first by the United Kingdom, South Africa and Singapore among sectors expected to support green building in the next three years. In addition, over 40 percent of respondents in the United States, Mexico and Brazil listed retrofitting as a major area for projects.

What makes green building a top priority in a given area? Next week, we'll examine the top motivators for green building in the marketplace, as well as the obstacles that different nations face.

View the full report