One of the major issues facing architects is their clients’ growing desire to go green. Green Building Elements calls traditional building materials “fossil fuels’ ugly cousin” and people are starting to take notice. According to BCC Research, “The U.S. market for green building materials reached nearly $40.0 billion and $43.8 billion in 2013 and 2014, respectively. This market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.5% to nearly $69.0 billion over the period 2014-2019.”
With such a dramatic increase expected, it’s worthwhile to consider how building materials manufacturers can help architects become even greener and possibly gain a competitive advantage.
A recent graduate of Pratt University reports that green architecture is being taught to students and goes on to explain that green architecture involves more than the use of green building materials. From skyscrapers with plants growing on the outside walls to capturing light effectively to reduce the need for inside lighting, every aspect of building design is explored when considering the potential of green architecture. The idea isn’t just to build greener, but to build smarter in order to use the natural environment to increase the sustainability of the designed structure.
Architects Want to Learn More From Manufacturers
While architecture students are learning the importance and the possibility of greener building designs, practicing architects are also continually learning about the continuing advancements in greener structures. This opens opportunities for building materials manufacturers to provide value-added educational services along with their standard marketing materials, offering tips and how-tos to the architects recommending and using their products. This deepens the relationship between architect and manufacturer and can result in more sales for the manufacturer.
Hurricane Katrina Created a Learning Opportunity
The architects that are willing to learn certainly have plenty of opportunities to practice and perfect their skills. Consider, for example, what’s going on in New Orleans. Accord to Time, “In the aftermath of the storm, a slew of nonprofits committed millions of dollars to support the construction of green homes in the city, which in turn prompted a green building trend in the city. Now, ten years later, green building experts say the work rebuilding there can serve as a model for other communities.”
The first impression might be one of irony after “the ongoing controversy over the ‘toxic trailers’ that some residents ended up living in” as reported by PBS. With so many people suffering from the poorly built temporary housing provided to them, New Orleans seems like an unlikely place for a green revolution. Then again, the attention given the “toxic trailers” may have been an impetus for the greening revolution, especially considering, as Time reports, “Green building materials, which often replace materials that exacerbate respiratory disease, can also improve environmental health, especially in low-income communities where asthma is particularly prevalent.” Perhaps the green housing built by the Make it Right Foundation can undo some of the respiratory damage done by those trailers.
Building materials manufacturers can take this a step further by helping architects who want to learn more about green building design. As they respond to the growing market and start building greener buildings on demand, manufacturers have the opportunity to educate architects about the benefits of using greener products for other projects. Even buildings that are not designed and built with green in mind can become healthier environments for their occupants when green materials are used, especially if the architects start to prefer those materials based on other marketable qualities.
Green is No Longer a Niche
According to Environmental Leader, “By 2015, McGraw-Hill projects that an estimated 40 percent to 48 percent of new nonresidential construction by value will be green, at a total opportunity value of $120 to $145 billion.” Environmental Leader also reports that “more than 500 US companies, including a number of Fortune 500 companies, are involved in the production of green building materials and the design and construction of green buildings.”
All of This Tells us Three Things.
First, architects need to continue to learn in order to keep up with the many green innovations being offered by manufacturers and building science. Second, building materials manufacturers that already deal in green building materials are ahead of the curve and should use that advantage to educate and convert the architects who are playing catch-up. Third, building materials manufacturers who don’t deal in green building materials need to get in the game if they want to create a sustainable business. Green isn’t going away.
Owens Corning is an example of a company who is taking green seriously as this article shows. They don’t merely rely on the fact that they make energy-saving insulation to say they are green. They have made a corporate-wide commitment to sustainability. Savy green architects recognize companies that take these extra steps have a genuine commitment to the environment and become a preferred supplier.
Even if we were suddenly to discover that human beings aren’t the source of global warming and all our interventions can’t change a thing about the temperature and weather fluctuations that have caused so much concern, green buildings will continue to go up. In the process of trying to save our planet, we’ve discovered that going green saves us as well. Green buildings are better for the environment and they’re better for people, which makes them a win-win and people know it.
You may be interested in this article on Green Building Product Strategy
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