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CURRENTS:
Contractors’ Edge is Green

In 2009 sustainable projects grew, and firms doing the bulk of that work weathered the storm.

November 2010

By Michele Russo

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In 2009, the recession hit contractors hard. For the Top 400 Contractors—the 400 contractors in the U.S. that had the most overall revenue—revenues dropped 14.1 percent to levels lower than those earned in 2007 and 2008. The Top 100 Green Contractors—the 100 firms bringing in the largest revenues from LEED and other certified projects as reported to ENR magazine (see more detail in article on page 36)—fared the same, with their total revenues dropping 15.5 percent. However, the story changes when you look at the Top 10 Green Contractors—they fared significantly better in the downturn, with their total revenues only dropping 2.8 percent between 2008 and 2009.

Furthermore, firms specializing in sustainability enjoyed increased market share. Of the five firms in the top 25 that had 75 percent or more of their work green, four grew their business and increased their rankings on both the Top Green Contract-​ors and Top 400 Contractors lists.

In contrast to overall contractor revenues, the green share saw growth between 2009 and 2008—rising a strong 11.3 percent to $43.05 billion in 2009 up from $38.7 billion in 2008.

And building type mattered—green education and government office buildings increased quite heavily at 35.2 and 25.6 percent respectively, helping to compensate for the decreases in sustainable projects in the commercial sectors. Firms specializing in education or government office buildings also fared well and improved their rankings and market share.

Tracking over time will be important to see how the firms doing the most green construction fare competitively, but at least for now, sustainable design seems to be helping contractors grow and stay strong in this downturn.

Michele A. Russo is the director of green content and research at McGraw-Hill Construction.

Top 25 Green Design Firms
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This article appeared in the November 2010 print issue of GreenSource Magazine.

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