Green Building Predictions - What Can we Expect from 2017?

Allison Friedman

Rate It Green Admin
Jan 17, 2017
Green Building Predictions - What Can we Expect from 2017?

Top 10 Predictions for 2017:


It isn't easy being green, but importantly, we can accomplish more if we work together this year, and beyond. 


1.  This is the Year of YOU - IN 2017, We All need to Get Involved Or Step It Up:


The is the year where even though you didn’t think of yourself as an activist, something is going to grab your attention in that overflowing inbox and make you stand up to be counted.  There’s simply too much at stake when a President-Elect isn’t sure he believes in climate chance and picks anti-environmentalists for sensitive environmentally related positions.  And that’s putting it mildly.  Take your action or stand in your own way, but just do it!  One benefit of this new or increased activity?  Expect to make some new friends along the way.  




2.  We are Going to See more “Distributed Leadership"


Who needs the Federal Government anyway?  Actually, we do, but expect green and green building leadership from three places: 


  • Business will lead the way - Many are already
  • More green activity at the state and local level
  • Cities- Many mayors are doing a great job already


It’s important to take great care of our environment, because it’s the right thing to do.  But this year, companies are going to continue to show more leadership for business reasons as well as ethical ones.  Going green means saving money and doing business the smart way, anyway.  We’re gong to get to a point where it’s shameful not to be green, so the sooner companies get on board, the better. Let’s make it cool to be green.  Who wants to be embarrassed?  Amazon and Costco surely aren’t enjoying being targeted for the “F’s” they received for phasing toxic chemicals out of products, and surely CVS, Target and Walmart are happy to receive praise on the same score.  


State and local governments will continue their great leading roles at moving an environmental agenda.  Look to some active governors for leadership, and look to organizations like C40 ( to see what progress can look like - with or without Federal leadership.  Post COP21 in Paris, a new promising organization emerged, or merged: the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, with THOUSANDS of members: (  Have you heard of Eco Districts or the 2030 Districts programs?  You will.  Whole areas are being set aside within cities to promote green building and sustainable ways of doing business.  We need to learn more and thank our progressive leaders at the state level.  At the same time, it might help to apply pressure.  Who’s not a green Governor?  Check this Think Progress map:  






3.  Solar Growth will Continue, even with Market Corrections


Elon Musk’s solar roof news may be sealing the deal for the higher end homeowner, but we can’t deny overall solar trends.  Solar is booming.  According to Christoph Frei, Secretary General of the World Energy Council, Renewable energy sources now represent approximately 30 percent of the world's total capacity and 23 percent of total global electricity production.  (  Residential solar growth rates may dip at times as it takes more effort to acquire each new customer, but the trend is clear with over 1 million US solar installations in 2016.  SolarCity has created a series of maps to show the “absurd” potential for rooftop solar in the US alone:  Meanwhile,  community, large-corporate and and utility-scale solar growth show no signs of slowing.  The market may correct with falling prices and other challenges, and concerns about the regulatory outlook are of course high with a new US administration with questionable environmental stances, but globally, solar growth is going to continue “through the roof.”  Expect heavy investments from China and India to help growth remain above 30% for the second year in a row, and for ten years of continued growth (  





4.  Smart Home Technology will Remain Cool, with new Toys and Applications 


Predictions about the Smart Home Market top $120 million with 14% growth annually by 2022 (, but more of us are feeling this growth every day and month as we install smart meters, cool new lighting, or adjust our cool new thermostats from the office or gym.  As long as our privacy isn’t at risk, many companies and consumers are ready to jump in and embrace the Internet of Things.  One challenge?  We become a bit dependent on these cool toys.  





5.  EV’s will Take over the World  - They Already Are


If you don’t already own an EV, you likely kind of want one.  And the EV market is already clearly on an upward curve.  According to energy advisor Adam Whitmore (via CleanTechnica), annual sales of EVs could account for 7-22% of the vehicle stock by 2030. And by 2050, they will account for a majority of light vehicles on the road.  Accenture has a few ideas on why this growth is exploding, but ( let’s summarize in a more fun way by saying that all manufacturers are jumping in, infrastructure is rising to meet demand better, government regulations and subsidies are helping, and heck, Tesla and other leaders just made these cars and their drivers “cool.”   





6.  Expect to Hear more about Healthy Building


Top organizations within the green building movement have been increasingly embracing healthy building concepts for several years now, and this might just be the year these principles go mainstream.  Why build a home or office full of toxic substances or poor indoor air quality?  Unhealthy buildings simply aren’t sustainable.  For information, look to organizations like the Healthy Building Network (  The WELL Building Standard ( will also help guide more companies to build green and healthy, as "a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of buildings that impact the health and wellbeing of the people who live, work, and learn in them.”  WELL focuses on 7 aspects of buildings: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind.  Want to know what not to build with?  Check out Living Future’s Red List: (






7.  NetZero will Grow in Popularity 


NetZero buildings produce as much energy as they consume - What can be cooler than net using NO energy?  Given what we now know about climate change and risk, it’s significant that buildings produce almost half of all greenhouse gas emissions and also half of US energy (  Clearly, lowering building energy use can make a significant impact.  In signing COP21 in Paris, almost 200 countries committed to lowering building emissions as part of a strategy to keep climate rise to 1.5 degrees or less.  Two top goals included New Zero Carbon buildings and an emphasis on energy efficiency. In 2016, the World Green Building Council launched the Advancing Net Zero Project to ensure all net zero buildings by 2050:  A partner in this project, Architecture 2030 has created a Roadmap to Net Zero Building emissions:  The Living Building Challenge has a new NetZero standard to help builders learn about and pursue NetZero buildings:  Expect to hear more about Netzero is you haven’t already - we can save energy, and money, and the planet, all at the same time.  





8. Expect Growth in Pushing the Leading Edge 


Have you heard about Passive House Building ( or Living Buildings ( If not, you will.  Passive House focuses on energy efficiency and airtightness, achieving reductions that can reach over 80% in heating and over 40% in cooling.  Living Buildings embrace severn “petals” of green buildings and aim to return more to the environment and people than they “take:" place, energy, water, health and happiness, materials, equity and even beauty.  A Living Building must also undergo performance measurement for a year in order to achieve the certification.  And though we mentioned Net Zero above, what about Net Positive Buildings which actually product more energy than they consume?  It’s all possible, and in 2017 it seems as is its time for pushing the leading edge of green building to become more known, and more popular.  While some folks dip their toes into green building this year, and that’s great, more will take the leap and tackle the toughest standards.  Once you achieve bronze level sustainability, it’s a matter of time before you want to go gold, and beyond.  





9.  International News will be BIG!  Can we wake up the US competitive spirit?


The 2016 World Green Building Council (WGBC) World Trends Report indicated that globally, green building growth will double every three years: ( With building operating costs reduced by 9% on average globally and values increasing by 7%, these trends make sense.  Green building materials growth is projected to double within five years.  (  US projections may be uncertain currently especially given the current political environment, but other nations have been active in green building, including South Africa, Singapore, India, Germany and Mexico. Countries that have had lower activities in the past, such as China and India, have recently been making significant investments and news ( 




10.  Climate News is Just Going to Get Worse


With the Larsen C ice shell about to break off in Antarctica, climate change couldn’t be more clear or more real (


Already, architects, urban planners, leaders and others are talking about how to adapt to climate change as coastal water rises and how to be resilient as weather variability grows, and not if the climate is going to change.  What’s really shocking is that we are not all on the same page.  Check out this 2016 map of climate deniers in leading government positions:  It’s an uphill battle to take care of our environment if 63% of Americans are represented by a climate denier.   









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Allison Friedman // Rate It Green Admin

I am excited to work with the Members of the Rate It Green Community to host conversations, create connections, and generally share information and help green builders everywhere. Please feel welcome to reach out to me directly with suggestions for improving Rate It Green.

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