Survey of Architects Shows Multifamily Sector Is Rapidly Adopting Green Building Technologies

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorBoston–A majority of architects say that multifamily buildings, as well as other commercial buildings, are going green more than other building types (institutional, single-family and industrial), according to the fourth annual Autodesk/AIA Green Index released this week at the GreenBuild Conference and Expo in Boston. This year, the survey measured 287 AIA architects about how they practice sustainable design, as well as their opinions about the green building movement.The 2008 index shows an increase in the implementation of sustainable design practices from architects and building owners. In addition, it shows that architects’ clients have experienced a doubling in market demand for green buildings over the past year as well as positive shifts in architects’ attitudes toward their ability to impact climate change.  “The findings in this survey are pretty encouraging,” Noah Cole, senior communications manager, AutoDesk, tells MHN. Cole worked as project manager on the study. “For a while, we saw clients asking for green building measures but not actually implementing them. But this year, there was a 15 percent increase in the number of clients going through with green techniques.”Forty-two percent of architects report clients asking for green building elements on a majority of their projects, with 47 percent of clients actually implementing green building elements on their projects. Client demand remains the leading driver for green building, with 66 percent of surveyed architects citing client demand as the primary influence on their practice of green building. Architects believe that the primary reasons their clients are asking for green buildings are reduced operating costs, marketing and market demand (21 percent, up from 10 percent in the 2007 survey).  “There is also a significant increase in what people are doing. A few years ago, developers were using high-efficiency systems but now you see green roofs, renewable, wind and solar energy,” says Cole. For example, the study finds that architects are increasing their use of certain sustainable design practices. According to the survey, 34 percent of architects are now implementing green or vegetated roof coverings on more than half of their new projects, compared with seven percent of architects in 2007. Also, 39 percent are using renewable, on-site energy sources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, low-impact hydro, biomass or bio-gas in over half of new building designs, compared with just six percent last year. Architects indicated a significant increase in their use of design software over the past year to help predict and evaluate HVAC operating costs (39 percent, up from 31 percent in 2007), conduct energy modeling and baseline analysis (33 percent, up from 29 percent in 2007) and evaluate and explore alternative building materials (35 percent, up from 20 percent in 2007).Over the past year, Autodesk also conducted similar green index surveys of architects in Japan, Italy and the United Kingdom and found that the reasons architects are building green vary across countries. In the U.S., green building designs are driven by client demand (66 percent), whereas in the U.K. and Japan, the primary factors are regulatory requirements (75 percent and 64 percent, respectively) and in Italy, rising energy costs (70 percent).