Green roofs will be worth $7 billion by 2017

This just in — green roofs and walls are big business. 

Or they will be, at least, by 2017, when the market for them is set to hit the $7.7 billion mark worldwide, according to a new study from to Lux Research.

The study, entitled “Building-Integrated Vegetation: Redefining the Landscape or Chasing a Mirage?,” takes a look at the drivers as well as barriers for growth in this emerging global market.

It found that cities seeking to address environmental issues like air pollution, the heat-island effect and loss of green space are likely to drive the market for green roofs and living walls over the next five years with a combination of mandates and incentives.

Of that $7.7 market for “building-integrated vegetation,” Lux predicts that a whopping $7 billion will be accounted for by green roofs alone, presenting a $2 billion opportunity to suppliers of polymeric materials such as geosynthetic fabrics and waterproof membranes. Green walls will swell to a $680 million market, and will require $200 million worth of materials such as self-supporting polyurethane foam growth media.

The study found that green roofs are still a bit of a hard sell for building owners and developers, despite their long-term economic benefits, due to their significant upfront costs (though tools like The Green Roof Energy Calculator, developed by researchers at Portland State University, could help to change that). It also cited the single biggest driving factor in the green roof market as being the rising environmental awareness of cities in the developed world such as London, New York, Singapore, and Tokyo.

None of which will be lost on building material suppliers, as the study predicts that such companies will create special grades of waterproof membranes and geosynthetic fabrics suited for building-integrated vegetation, improving on existing offerings as the market goes mainstream and performance standards become more established.

* Susan DeFreitas, EarthTechling