Green building and sustainable planning consultant Jerry Yudelson, LEED AP, recently released his top 10 predictions for the green building industry in 2009. Yudelson, the founder and principal of Yudelson Associates, Tuscon, Ariz., has authored eight books on green building, is a frequent speaker at industry and professional conferences, and chaired the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo for four years. He has seen more people choose to pursue sustainability each year, noting, "There is nothing on the horizon that will stop this trend."

Yudelson's predictions for 2009:

  1. The green building industry will grow by more than 60% this year, maintaining the strong growth pattern of the past three years. 

  2. Green building will benefit from the Barack Obama presidency, which so far has shown a strong focus on the green economy and energy concerns. The trend will center on increasing jobs in energy efficiency, new green technologies, and renewable energy, and will continue for at least the next four years. 

  3. The focus of green building will begin to shift from new buildings to greening existing buildings by retrofitting, upgrading, and renovating. 

  4. Awareness of the coming global crisis in freshwater supply will increase, leading building designers and managers to take further steps to reduce water consumption in buildings with more conserving fixtures, rainwater-recovery systems, and innovative water technologies. 

  5. LEED-Platinum-rated projects will become more commonplace as building owners, designers, and construction teams learn how to design for higher levels of LEED achievement on conventional budgets. 

  6. Solar power use in buildings will accelerate with the extension of solar energy tax credits through 2016 and the prospect of increasing utility focus on renewable power goals for 2015 and 2020. Third-party financing partnerships will continue to grow and provide capital for large rooftop systems. 

  7. Local governments will increasingly mandate green buildings for both themselves and the private sector. While concern over the economic impacts of green building mandates will be present, the desire to reduce carbon emissions by going green will lead more government agencies to require green building. 

  8. Zero-net-energy designs for new buildings will gain increasing acceptance in both public and private buildings. Reducing a building's energy use through design makes purchasing renewable energy to displace the remaining loads more cost-effective, Yudelson says. 

  9. Green homes will come to dominate new-home developments in more sections of the United States as builders increasingly view green building as giving them a competitive edge. 

  10. European green building technologies will become better-known and more widely adopted in the United States and Canada as more European architects and engineers open offices in the U.S., Yudelson says.

Yudelson's predictions are the result of many conversations with green building leaders in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and the Middle East, he says.