Green projects are, pardon the pun, as healthy as ever in the marketplace. No longer a trend, they’ve reached their final destination as a key component of new commercial construction, retrofits and institutional projects.

What may be on the wane – unless it isn’t – is not green, but certifications, at least in the U.S. which seems to be lagging behind certification growth in the rest of the world.

An interesting market shift appeared in a recent report from Dodge Data & Analytics which can be summarized as more projects in the U.S. will be green, but less of them will be seeking certification. According to Dodge, the figure for certification will be fewer than 15%, a decrease from 41% in 2015 – a rather stunning decline. As the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) was a partner in the Dodge “World Green Buildings Trends Report”, we assume the aforementioned statistic refers to LEED certifications only.

LEED standards have become tighter. As the USGBC said about v4, “…credits and prerequisites were designed to raise the bar.” There’s been conjecture about whether the design and construction industries would and could meet new credit requirements; that there is not enough customization for climate zones and markets, i.e., what works for a suburban office park in Arizona is not going to be the same as what works on a zero lot building in New York City; and that with the work and time entailed, pursuing certifications may not be profitable based on a cost benefit analysis.
While LEED is still the U.S. and global standard, there’s also been a groundswell in other certification models.

EnergyStar, from the U.S. EPA and U.S. DOE, is well known. Green Globes, which gives environmental credits, has no prerequisites and is less stringent than LEED, is an alternative developed by the Green Building Initiative. But, have you heard of the Living Building Challenge, NZEB (Net Zero Energy Building), Passive Home Institute, SITES (sustainable landscapes) or the WELL Building Standard (focused on health and well-being)?

Two things seem perfectly clear. For one, green buildings themselves are not on the wane as they have shown to decrease energy costs; reduce operating costs; be the favored choice of tenants; and increase property value.

Secondly, the certification field is growing in choice and specialization. Generally, competition tends to spur greater effort, improved efficiencies and innovation. Specifically, the greater the green options, the better the opportunity to determine whether and how your project will be green certified based on location, size, budget, goals, new construction or retrofit and type of property.

Thus, to answer our own question: green certifications aren’t necessarily on the wane. They’re simply evolving.

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