As a peaceful transfer of power looms on the horizon, the green building industry faces an uncertain future. The president elect is openly hostile to climate change, has appointed a climate change denier to head the EPA, and has made some uncharitable remarks about green buildings. But despite a President Elect Trump’s plans to bring back coal, market forces and city and state governments offer hope for the green building industry under a Trump administration.
As the green building industry has grown, the leading reason for sustainable building shifted from “the right thing to do” in 2008 to a close tie between client demand and market demand in 2012. Green buildings, particularly LEED certified buildings, take in higher rents and have lower occupancy rates. (See our previous blog post on the subject here). Green buildings also offer demonstrable savings in energy costs to building owners over time.
In other words, the green building industry is viable with or without Federal government protection because it benefits business. Green building industry leaders suggest that a change of messaging may be necessary under a Trump presidency. By putting less emphasis on the importance of sustainability in stopping climate change and more on the benefits to a potential builder’s bottom line, green building can market itself under a pro-business Republican administration.
And fortunately for the green building industry, the vast majority of policies that affect green building are legislated at the local and state level. While some of President Obama’s executive orders are potentially on the chopping block, the regulations that drive green building innovation happen, on the whole, on the state and local level.