Once the recession started, it became very difficult for developers of all types to obtain loans for new construction projects, but despite those challenges, the green construction sector continued to grow. From 2008 to 2010, green building construction starts shot up by 50 percent, representing a full 25 percent of all new construction activity in the United States in 2010 [source: McGraw-Hill]. And that trend isn't expected to slow down. The green construction industry is projected to continue growing at a rate of 23 percent through 2017 as the broader construction industry continues to recover.
Interest in green buildings and green technology has been growing for several reasons. First, increased awareness about climate change is prompting businesses to act. Buildings account for roughly 40 percent of the energy use in the U.S., so improving the energy efficiency of buildings is a key way to reduce our carbon output. But more than that, green buildings are proven to save money. From 2000 to 2008, green construction and renovation projects generated roughly $1.3 billion in energy savings, which is nothing to sneeze at [source: USGBC]. And these figures aren't limited to new-construction buildings; with support from federal and state governments, green retrofits are also growing.
Green buildings have been booming in both the commercial and residential real estate markets. In a 2010 study, a group of researchers from the Netherlands and the U.S. studied recent developments in green office buildings, reporting "large increases in the supply of green buildings between 2007 and 2009, and the recent downturns in property markets, have not significantly affected the returns to green buildings relative to those of comparable high-quality property investments" [source: Eichholtz].
Although in early 2012, the construction industry was still stuck in neutral, the outlook looks good for the green building industry. In the next five years, revenue in the green and sustainable building construction is expected to increase to $245.4 billion, buoyed by government incentives [source: IBISWorld].