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US, Other Rich Nations Set the Trend in ‘Green Building,’ Lux Says

Energy security and environmental and livability concerns drive government policy on “green building” technologies, but cost and affordability determine how quickly and to what extent governments adopt these technologies, according to a report by Lux Research.

In the report, “Policy’s Dramatic Impact on Green Buildings: The Global Hotspots,” the research firm examined 21 countries that account for 80 percent of the world’s GDP on a Lux Nations Ranking Chart, assessing how policy drivers in each country create an opportunity for specific green-building technologies. Among the findings:

  • Rich nations set the trend. Countries with high per capita incomes tend to be early adopters of expensive technologies and emerging technologies such as dynamic windows, green roofs and building integrated photovoltaics. These nations — such as the US, Singapore, South Korea, Germany and Australia — also create attractive policy regimes for green buildings.
  • Global cooperation is growing. Unlike securing energy supply, which is viewed as a zero-sum game, green buildings and energy efficiency are seen as “win-win” possibilities, leading to cooperation, like the work between USAID and India’s Bureau of Energy Efficiency on developing the Energy Conservation Building Codes and carbon emission cap-and-trade programs in several countries.
  • Oil-rich nations are laggards; fast-growing countries are ahead. Energy-rich countries like Brazil lag in policies to promote green buildings but fast-growing nations are ahead on account of their need to contain ever-increasing energy costs and simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Buildings use 40 percent of the world’s energy and account for 40 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions, according to Lux Research analysts.

In June, the US Energy Department and the US Department of Commerce selected three Centers for Building Operations Excellence — each will receive $1.3 million to train and expand building operators in energy efficiency — as part of the Better Buildings Initiative, which aims to improve the efficiency of commercial buildings by 20 percent by 2020.

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