While conditions in residential construction throughout many parts of the world may be challenging right now, those seeking long term growth opportunities need look no further than the green building and energy efficient housing sector.
Indeed, over the next decade, the value of work done in energy efficient residential dwellings – properties which are built to exceed the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code by 15 per cent on a kilowatt-hour per square foot basis – will grow by around sixfold from around US$14 billion now to around US$84 billion in 2020 according to a report from Pike Research, a global market research and consulting firm specialising in clean energy.
During this time, the research firm says, the volume of sustainable dwelling space that will be created will exceed 118 billion square feet, with growth for both sustainable new homes and retrofits of existing homes being driven by rising household energy consumption.
Still, Pike research analyst Brittany Gibson says the dynamics of the market will vary from region to region, and that while the International Energy Conservation Code sets basic design energy performance standards for a variety of climate zones, the strategies for designing and building energy efficient homes will vary across geographical locations, jurisdictions and types of home.
“The dynamics of the energy-efficient housing market vary widely across regions and countries,” Gibson says. “It has yet to be determined whether or not energy efficient homes – and all the products and services used in them – can be a saviour for sluggish housing markets in developed economies, or provide a demand-side tool to help control rising electricity demand, as it might be for rapidly growing economies like China and India.”
Gibson further notes that the varying definitions and attributes of energy efficient housing add another layer of complexity.
“The strategies for designing and constructing energy efficient homes can employ a wide range of technologies and services, according to the report, making each energy efficient home potentially different from the next,” she says.
Generally, however, the Pike report says opportunities will come from a range of areas, including building envelope improvements, lighting, HVAC and major appliances, water heating, energy audits and soft costs associated with energy efficiency.
The latest predictions come amid increasing concern about the environmental impact of rising household energy consumption. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the volume of energy consumption in buildings – more than half of which comes from residential buildings – will grow from an estimated 41,983 terawatt-hours (TWh) to 51,253 TWh globally by 2050.
In Australia, a recent report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates that despite increasing efforts in green building and energy saving, households are using 25 per cent more electricity and 22 per cent more gas than they were ten years ago.