The demand for sustainability in construction projects is on the rise.
According to McGraw-Hill Construction Analytics, the annual U.S. market in green building products and services has grown from more than $7 billion in 2005 to more than $12 billion by the end of 2007. John White, energy management and environmental solutions manager for Eaton Corporation’s Electrical Group, believes the growth potential is huge.
“The demand for green building products and services could grow to as much as $20 billion in 2010,” said White, “and I expect green electrical power distribution products to at least match that growth rate. As electricity price and volatility continue to rise, products that manage electrical power will become critical elements for nearly all building operations.”
While many factors fuel demand for green electrical power distribution—rising energy costs, federal mandates, societal pressures, and, as White puts it, “the simple fact that it’s the right thing to do”—one of the biggest is the growing impact of the LEED Program, launched in 2000 by the USGBC.
Ultimately, using green products brings greater value to the building owner or operator in the form of energy savings, comfort for the building’s occupants, and improved property values, according to Dave Davidson, Solutions Center manager at Eaton.
“Electrical engineers are beginning to understand their vital role in this green building movement, and are getting involved in LEED certification by specifying products based on sustainability merits, whether that means they are smaller, more efficient, or manufactured in a sustainable way,” said Davidson.
Another segment receiving considerable attention in the quest for greener performance is lighting control, said Scott Jordan, product marketing manager for SquareD/Schneider Electric.
“Historically, going green meant changing out lamps and ballasts with little regard for how much the lighting system was operating when nobody was occupying the room,” he said. “But now customers are demanding further reductions in energy cost, and lighting control is often the most attractive technology from an ROI standpoint.”
Tom Braz, general manager for Hubbell Building Automation, expects 15% to 20% compounded annual growth for lighting control products for the next 10 years—at least. “The applications for these products and systems cut across most vertical markets,” he said. “There’s been significant interest in deploying these techniques in educational institutions, governmental and office buildings—especially those trying to meet LEED certification—and numerous other market segments.”
Integrated switchboards are also experiencing the movement toward sustainability and LEED applications. “Both institutional and governmental installations, especially those that are being considered for retrofitting, are growth markets requiring space-saving solutions such as integrated or customized switchboards,” said Doug Carolan, business unit manager of commercial distribution and control assemblies for Eaton’s Electrical Group. Products to enhance data center applications are also in demand.
Donald Millstein, president and CEO of E-Mon, anticipates substantial green product growth for the next few years. “We expect it to exceed 15% annually in the foreseeable future,” he said. “Primarily, the greatest growth markets for metering technology are related to energy conservation for LEED and EPAct compliance, and include HVAC, lighting controls, and other energy management controls.”
Slowdown spreads green
Somewhat ironically, the current slowdown in the U.S. economy is also supporting the movement toward green technologies. “What we have experienced is that when the country comes out of a recessionary period, technologies that were once optional become essential,” Jordan explained. “The slowdown provides an opportunity for electrical distributors to talk to their customers about these technologies.”
Opportunities include targeting the engineering community working on the LEED projects and providing product bundles to assist in these endeavors. Ultimately, distributors who position themselves as the go-to vendors for LEED construction projects and green initiatives will realize a strong market advantage.
Carazo provides B2B marketing services for electrical industry organizations. He can be reached at
Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazine www.tedmag.com