Green retrofitting surpasses new construction projects for first time in U.S. history

December 9, 2011

Green retrofitting of commercial buildings is outpacing the construction of new structures, noted a report that was issued this week by McGraw Hill, according to the Insurance Journal.

This move by many companies and local governments is inspired by the potential long-term cost savings and a sense of corporate environmental consciousness that has arisen over the past several years. Businesses are also looking to receive a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) award for their structures, the news source reported.

Many of these businesses are using new technology to retrofit existing buildings as the way in which they acquire this certification. According to the Journal, the McGraw Hill Construction's Green Outlook 2011 report states that by 2015, the green share of the largest commercial retrofit and renovation activity will more than triple.

"The U.S. is home to more than 60 billion-square-feet of existing commercial buildings, and we know that most of those buildings are energy guzzlers and water sieves," Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of the U.S.Green Building Council (USGBC), said in a statement. "Greening these buildings takes hands-on work, creating precious jobs especially for construction workers. Making these existing buildings energy and water efficient has an enormous positive impact on the building’s cost of operations."

Officials from the USGBS noted that projects that have been completed worldwide are proving that green building doesn't have to be centered around new construction, the news source reported.

The USGBC and other federal organizations are working to try and reduce the 40 percent total energy consumption in the U.S. that commercial buildings currently account for. The Department of Energy has designated a specific site to serve as an innovation hub for the development and design of more energy efficient buildings and technology.

The Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy Efficient Buildings (GPIC) is headquartered at the historic Philadelphia Navy Yard, where a consortium of organizations with a shared history in collaborative regional technology-based economic development is working to make the Greater Philadelphia region a leader in the industry.

The five GPIC co-applicants that were awarded funding by the DOE are the Pennsylvania State University, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA, the Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center and the Wharton Small Business Development Center.