Harvey Bernstein, vice president of industry insights and alliances at Dodge Data & Analytics, speaks to attendees at Dodge’s 2015 Outlook Executive Conference today in Washington, D.C.
Harvey Bernstein, vice president of industry insights and alliances at Dodge Data & Analytics, speaks to attendees at Dodge’s 2015 Outlook Executive Conference today in Washington, D.C.

If it weren’t for Apple’s new 2.8 million square foot headquarters project in California, the percentage of green office construction starts in 2014 would be, well, still pretty high.

That’s according to Harvey Bernstein, vice president of industry insights and alliances at Dodge Data & Analytics. Bernstein spoke at Dodge’s 2015 Outlook Executive Conference today in Washington, D.C.

Office construction has exceled among the nonresidential green building sector lately, with 60 percent of its new projects, amounting to $16 billion, of the green variety. In 2008, 30 percent of commercial construction projects were green, totaling $8 billion. Bernstein notes that without Apple’s headquarters project, the 2014 number would be back at 56 percent, where it was last year.

The continued trend toward green building in office construction isn’t surprising given Dodge’s recent study of office environments.

In a study measuring relative of importance of rate of return (ROI) benefits of healthy building investments, 91 percent of the owners’ human resources representatives surveyed reported greater worker productivity as a result of healthy building investments.

Categories that fell into the 44-53 percent range were lower absenteeism, reduced health care costs for the company, improved employee satisfaction and improved employee engagement.

“There’s a real value for owners on investing in a building that has a positive health impact on its occupants,” says Bernstein.

Big Nonresidential Picture

On the whole, $81 billion worth of nonresidential construction this year was green, approaching 50 percent of all nonresidential construction. Looking at a decade-long scale, that’s a vast increase from the $3 billion worth of green building in 2005, which made up just 2 percent of the market.

Green building in educational institutions has seen a massive jump the past six years, going from 15 percent in 2008 ($9 billion) to 51 percent in 2013 and 2014.

Healthcare, meanwhile, has tapered off a bit, going from 40 percent in 2013 to 30 percent in 2014. Dodge attributes that to fewer overall starts in large hospital projects, which Bernstein says make up a substantial part of green building in that sector.

“This year, we’ve seen fewer of those large-scale projects,” he says. “That’s the reason for the drop-off in healthcare.”

Positive Vibes

Bernstein also showed a chart of the Engineering News-Record’s Industry Confidence index, spanning each quarter for the past six years. From 2010-13, there was at least one quarter-to-quarter dip by the third quarter, but in 2014, the index has gone up a little more each quarter.

“That’s a very positive indication of what we’re seeing in the industry,” says Bernstein.

Stay tuned to USGNN.com™ for more from the Dodge 2015 Outlook Executive Conference.