The report “The U.S. Market for "Green" Building Materials” estimates the value of the U.S. green building materials market at $21.1 billion in 2005. This figure is expected to rise to $21.9 billion in 2006 and to $27.9 billion by 2011, an AAGR of 4.9% over the next five years.
The built environment has a great impact on the natural environment, human health, and the economy. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, buildings in the U.S. account for:
• 39% of the nation's total energy use;
• 12% of its total water consumption;
• 68% of total electricity consumption;
• 38% of the carbon dioxide emissions.
In addition, a growing body of research has established the connection between indoor air quality (IAQ) and the health of building occupants. While most of the problems associated with poor IAQ are the result of inadequate ventilation, some are also caused by various types of airborne contaminants or toxins.
The presence of some of these contaminants, such as formaldehyde, is traceable to the use of certain building materials. Overexposure to formaldehyde may result in nose irritation, sneezing, dry throat, eye irritation, headache, and nausea. Formaldehyde is used extensively in the manufacture of certain building products (e.g., as bonding/laminating agents, adhesives, paper and textile products, and foam insulation), from which formaldehyde gas may be released in the course of normal use.
"Green" or "sustainable" building involves the use of building practices and materials that use resources as efficiently as possible, while constructing healthier, more energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly buildings. A related objective of some green building projects is creating esthetic harmony between a building and its environment.
The market for green building materials has been growing rapidly. As of the beginning of 2005, 177 million square feet of buildings have been certified by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Program. An article in the June 2006 issue of the Harvard Business Review predicts that green construction will become a mainstream technology in the next 5 to 10 years, as a growing market helps to drive down the cost of green building products, and building owners become increasingly aware of the economic, health, and environmental advantages of green building.