Top Five Sustainable Building Trends

When it comes to sustainable building, cost is still a major barrier, according to new survey by Structure Tone.

If you’re considering building a new facility for your company’s relocation or expansion project, the option of sustainable or “green” building has probably been a topic of discussion. Sustainable building practices are becoming more common, but are still seen as cost-prohibitive by many building and real estate leaders, according to a recent study by construction management firm Structure Tone.

sustainable building
(Source: Structure Tone)

The anonymous survey, which was sent to a select group of senior corporate real estate and facilities management professionals, was intended to take a snapshot of sustainability in practice across the real estate community. Questions centered on participants’ opinions on third-party certification systems like LEED, challenges to building green, and the newer pressures of climate change resilience and wellness in the built environment.

The responses revealed several key trends:

  • Sustainability is more commonplace but still seen as cost prohibitive: 66% of respondents reported incorporating green features to lower operating costs and 36% are looking to eliminate red-list building materials, but upfront costs are still seen as the #1 hindrance to true sustainability.
  • LEED is still the most prevalent program but others are growing. 8% of respondents plan to do a Living Building Challenge within the next two years.
  • Resiliency is a growing concern. 59% reported they are seeking outside expertise in resilient building.
  • Employee wellness is also a rising factor. 95% consider wellness essential, expected or emerging in the built environment. Leadership (44%) and the millennial generation (40%) are seen as driving this new focus and reported attracting and retaining employees as the #1 reason for the growing interest.

“Now that sustainability is well established in our industry and resilience and wellness are increasingly being included in that conversation, we really wanted to take the real-life pulse of how much these issues affect our clients’ decision making,” says Jennifer Taranto, Director of Sustainability at Structure Tone. “While the findings aren’t necessarily surprising, they definitely indicate a shift in priorities when it comes to holistic, sustainable building across the real estate development community.”

Structure Tone’s sustainability team plans to conduct the survey on an annual basis. The hope is that as building practices and contextual circumstances change over time, the report can help detect and analyze the resulting trends and what impact they may have on the present and future state of sustainable building.