Volume 10, Issue 2 - February 2009

eye on energy

Industry Studies Point to Greener Days Ahead
by Ric Jackson

Our industry is benefiting from a renewed focus on energy savings and sustainability. While stock markets tumble, credit freezes and housing struggles, green building is actually growing. The value of green building construction starts was up five-fold from 2005 to 2008 (from $10 billion to $36 to $49 billion). It could triple by 2013, reaching $96 to $140 billion, according to McGraw-Hill Construction’s (MHC) “Green Outlook 2009: Trends Driving Change” report.

The report shows that awareness of the benefits associated with green building has grown since 2005. Consumers cite economic benefits like reduced energy bills, health benefits like improved indoor air quality, and tax benefits as factors that influence their green building decisions.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) also reports that green building is less affected by the down market compared to non-green building. The USGBC cites government initiatives, heightened residential demand for green construction and improvements in sustainable materials as factors expediting the growth of green building.

These signs are certainly positive. They point to consumers’ desires to make a positive impact on the environment, not to mention their wallets, by conserving energy. Especially when economic concerns are high, consumer interest in energy conservation goes up. 

On another positive note, U.S. demand for doors and windows is forecast to grow approximately 3 percent annually through 2012 to $40 billion, according to the Freedonia Group. The organization’s U.S. window market report and forecast shows that window demand is projected to increase nearly 4 percent per year during that period. The study cites increasing interest in energy efficiency as the reason for this growth as consumers look to reduce heating and cooling costs by replacing older windows with more efficient models.

Remodeling Opportunities
While new construction starts are down to historically low levels, remodeling activity may improve. When it does, expect windows to be on the wish lists of many homeowners. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) surveys remodelers to produce a Remodeling Market Index (RMI). The most recent RMI survey revealed that remodelers are receiving increased customer calls for work to improve home energy efficiency compared to two years ago. Low-energy windows consistently have been the top customer request.

The potential for growing energy-efficient window sales in the remodeling market is backed by the “Manufacturing Climate Solutions” report released by Duke University. The report states: “The majority of existing penetration is in the replacement or remodeling of residential buildings with up to three stories.” It says that nearly 90 percent of the remodeling market uses high-performance windows, while the market share in new construction is slightly lower than 50 percent.

Looking Ahead
Based on the statistics noted above, the opportunity for growth is great. But what can our industry do to attract earth-conscious consumers?

MHC says that “with the down market, it has become even more important for industry players to capture the opportunity created by the demand for more sustainable buildings.” Our industry’s challenge is to not let our guard down and hide in the tall grass hoping we’ll survive. We must pursue the market opportunities available aggressively.

Now is the time for our industry to take a strong position on energy efficiency and green innovations. The Duke University report says “the economic leaders of tomorrow will be companies that manage their resources efficiently and take the lead in developing and commercializing innovative clean technologies.” As an industry, we need to increase the penetration of energy-efficient windows in the marketplace. We need to help more consumers efficiently insulate their homes and greatly reduce their energy consumption.

We need to continue planting the green seeds of growth now so we can nurture them in the coming months and years ahead. Green thinking needs to develop into green action. The future will belong to companies that take action now. 

Ric Jackson is the director of marketing and business development for Truseal Technologies Inc. He can be reached at rjackson@truseal.com. Mr. Jackson’s opinions are solely his own and
do not necessarily reflect those of this magazine.

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