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Construction Trends Point Green

An annual report on construction trends put out by the management consulting firm FMI Corp. (no relation to the Food Marketing Institute) is something we wouldn't usually read.

That's changing, however, and this new FMI report reminds us that the entire health and wellness movement is just one part of a much larger megatrend that also includes sustainability, social issues and world economics. The 2008 U.S. Construction Overview highlights three trends that are pushing green building practices to the forefront of all industries, including supermarkets.

According to the report, green nonresidential construction installed in 2006 reached $13.4 billion; by the end of this year it will pass the $21 billion mark — big growth on a big scale.

FMI cites three trends driving this increase:

* Government Initiatives. Many states and cities have adopted new ordinances that push sustainable practices in the construction of new buildings. There are also more tax rebates, credits and other incentives to go green. These projects also tend to get approved quicker, a benefit in and of itself.

* Residential Demand. There is a heightened level of interest in adding green elements at home, and this is spilling over in to the commercial construction sector, according to FMI. As homeowners increase their own investment, materials volume is increasing and becoming more common. Expectations grow that their retailers and other service providers will join in.

* Green Materials. Demand is creating increased inventory of sustainable building materials. People are making a conscious effort to source carpet, paint, wood and other supplies that are more healthful, more energy efficient and economically sensible. The growing demand is helping to drive down prices, and as the materials become more affordable, demand will likely increase even more.