Report: Western Pennsylvania well-positioned for green economic growth

Green Building Products and Services Report compares Western Pa. to other regions, provides recommendations for future growth

May 11, 2009 |

A comprehensive report issued by the Green Building Alliance (GBA) demonstrates that Western Pennsylvania is still well-positioned for green economic growth and opportunity, but also identifies unmet needs in the region and provides recommendations for future growth. The report, “Green Building Products and Services Market Analysis for Pennsylvania and Benchmark States,” will be unveiled at the GBA’s annual conference, Green$ense 2009: Beyond Buildings on March 31, 2009.

“The findings and recommendations in this report are positive for Western Pennsylvania despite the economic crisis our region and others are facing,” said Jeaneen Zappa, director of green business development, Green Building Alliance. “However, beyond just providing green building benchmark data for our region, this report details specific action steps and recommendations we believe will solidify our region’s future green economic growth.”

Green Services

In prior research, GBA focused on green construction and green product manufacturing.  However, through its work with regional building product manufacturers during the past two years, GBA recognizes that services that support the construction and operation of green buildings represent an economic opportunity every bit as important as the products themselves. This report reflects this perspective and identifies green services as its own growing sector in the green building marketplace.

“Green building doesn’t just take place from groundbreaking to ribbon cutting. It involves technicians who operate and service those buildings, as well as maintain sophisticated sensors and building power control software interfaces; maintenance crews that perform ‘green office cleaning;’ and businesses that responsibly refurbish or recycle items like office furniture and carpeting that often undergo wear and tear,” adds Zappa. “Our report is unique in that we’ve included green services data from around the region as part of our findings and, more importantly, as part of our recommendations.”   

Western PA Well-Positioned

GBA’s report includes economic data and growth projections for the national construction market until 2015. According to the report, by that time the construction market will be between $1 trillion to $3 trillion annually. Of that, the GBA estimates that between $100 billion and $475 billion per year will be earmarked specifically for green building. These nationwide estimates bode well for Western Pennsylvania, as the region is within 500 miles of 30 percent of the current green building activity in the U.S., providing a significant opportunity for regional firms to sell products and services in this market. 

In addition, the region’s strong manufacturing history, skilled workforce, and cluster of research and development organizations creating patented technologies make a strong case that the region is poised for green economic growth.  

Recommendations for Continued Growth

The GBA also outlines some important leading sectors and recommendations that the region needs to focus on for future growth. The research revealed the following:

Wood industry poised for growth:  The report recommends developing a wood industry working group or other resource for communication and coordination of activities. 

Significant opportunity for renovation/remediation companies: GBA points to an established cluster of renovation/remediation companies in the region coupled with the new funding  that is now available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed into law in mid-February. 

Training needed for contractors: The report recommends that green building training should be more widely available to and employed by a variety of contractors. From painting to masonry, strengthening the trade professionals’ green building skills across the region helps to further drive the market.

Engineering services and the metal industry are leaders and innovators:  Engineering services represents the largest sector of green building-related patent activity in the state. Pennsylvania’s metal industry is still a major sector and continues to evolve with a focus on green activities in the areas of utilization of recycled content and manufacturing efficiencies to reduce energy consumption.  However, both of these sectors can benefit by tapping into programs provided by the GBA and by forming other regional alliances. 


The research for the report was conducted by the GSP Consulting Corporation’s Economic Architecture practice. To download a complete copy of the “Green Building Products and Services Market Analysis for Pennsylvania and Benchmark States” report, visit

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