Green Certified Floor Space to Grow 900 Percent Worldwide by 2020

Space covered by green building certification programs will increase from six billion square feet in 2010 to 53 billion worldwide in 2020, according to a report out this week from Pike Research.

“Green building techniques are increasingly becoming the standard within the architecture and construction industries,” says Pike research analyst Eric Bloom.

By 2020 80 percent of green certified buildings will be in the commercial sector, according to the report, up from 73 percent today. Most commercial green certifications will be retrofits of existing buildings, while in the residential sector most certified buildings will be new construction.

Three trends are driving growth in green building: the attractiveness of green-certified commercial space to corporations from an environmental/CSR standpoint, the potential savings from energy efficiency, and government regulations mandating buildings be more environmentally friendly.

Thus far, most government regulations have applied to public buildings, such as California’s Green Buildings Initiative. But the report says those requirements are gradually spreading to commercial buildings as well.

While Americans are most familiar with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard, according to the World Green Building Council, there are nine other green building rating systems worldwide. The Pike Research report cites an additional 11 “green certification building programs” in its report.

Either way, more are on the way. “The global GBC Network now includes Green Building Councils in over 70 countries, up from only 8 in 1998 when the World Green Building Council was formed,” a spokesperson said in an email. The WGBC does not differentiate between rating systems in terms of environmental rigor.

One not insignificant contributor to that 53 billion square feet: the 1.8 million in the Empire State Building, which will be certified LEED Gold after an energy retrofit due to be completed in 2013.

BC (Ben) Upham is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for the New York Times, and was a writer and editor for News Communications, Inc., a local paper consortium serving Manhattan. When he's not blogging on green issues -- and especially renewable energy -- he's hiking in the Angeles Mountains or hanging out at El Matador.