On the production side, buildings are the largest handmade objects in the economy. Regional
differences in climate, energy prices, building codes, and building style traditions complicate standardi
zation in buildings. Nevertheless, there is a limited trend in manufacturing and production techniques
toward mass customization through factory made building components, with the manufactured housing
industry accounting for 6.3 percent of U.S. housing units.
The building construction industry, especially homebuilding, is dominated by small and medium
sized firms. This is problematic because it means that a large number of firms and individuals need to be
influenced to have a significant collective impact on energy efficiency. There were 1.65 million new home
closings in the United States in 2002, and nearly 500,000 homebuilders operated that year. The five
largest of these homebuilders accounted for less than 7 percent of new homes, while the top 100
accounted for just another 7 percent.
However, there is a trend toward consolidation. According to
Professional Builder, the top five builders accounted for approximately 10 percent of new homes in 2003,
and industry experts predict a 20 percent share before 2010.
The renovation and home repair business
is likewise dominated by very small firms, typically with fewer than 10 employees.
Similarly, small construction companies account for a large share of small commercial building
construction. Commercial buildings under 50,000 square feet account for only 52 percent of commercial
floor space but more than 95 percent of the number of commercial buildings.
Large office developers, mall
developers, and chains and retailers complete a significant percentage of new construction. But here again,
the technological needs of different commercial sub markets (e.g., office, retail, lodging, education) are not
uniform, requiring a highly articulated approach to influencing change.
Only for large scale commercial and
mixed use projects is the majority of the market dominated by a small number of large construction firms.
Numerous decision makers are also involved in the design, operation, renovation, and repair of
buildings. An estimated 125,000 architects are licensed to participate in the design of buildings today,
and only a small number of these are employed by large design firms. The design of many large commer
cial buildings typically involves an architect for the building envelope (roof, walls, and foundation) and
mechanical engineers for the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. This division of responsi
bilities can produce sub optimal results (e.g., energy efficient approaches to envelope design that do not
capitalize on opportunities to down size HVAC equipment).
Towards a Climate Friendly