World green building trends in 2018: Spotlight on Mexico

Amanda Sawit

Mexico’s rate of green building is expected to double in the next three years, according to a new report from Dodge Data and Analytics, in which USGBC was a contributing partner. Compared to figures from the last iteration of the report, published in 2015, this percentage jumped from 27 percent to 54 percent.

Sectors with expected growth

The top sector for green building in Mexico is new commercial construction, which was cited by 52 percent of Mexican respondents as an area where they expected a surge of green projects. A large share of respondents (43 percent) also selected low-rise residential construction as a sector with anticipated growth, which is notable given that this was not one of the top three sectors cited in Mexico in the 2015 study.

Regarding greening existing buildings, Mexico lags behind its North American neighbors, with just 32 percent of respondents saying they expect to do green retrofits. However, this finding is in line with the global average (37 percent).

World Green Building Trends 2018: Mexico

Top triggers driving green building activity

Along with client demands and healthier buildings, Mexican respondents cited environmental regulations as an important trigger for green building, which is a noteworthy increase from the 2015 study, where environmental regulations were left off the country’s list of top five triggers. Another top trigger cited is lower operating costs (cited by one-third of Mexican respondents), up 8 percent from 2015.

Social and environmental reasons for building green

Among social drivers, encouraging sustainable business practices and improving occupant health and well-being were the top two motivating factors for building green among Mexican respondents (61 and 54 percent, respectively).

The most frequently cited environmental reason for building green is reduced energy consumption, along with protecting natural resources and reducing water consumption. About two-thirds of Mexican respondents selected lowering energy use as one of their top two environmental reasons. Forty-six percent said protecting resources was important, and 47 percent put lowering water consumption high on their list as well. This factor in particular has increased in importance in Mexico over the last three years; in 2015 it did not rank in the top three environmental reasons.

Business benefits

Respondents from Mexico are more optimistic about 12-month operating cost savings in their new green buildings than the global average, with anticipated median average savings of 11 percent, compared to the global average of 8 percent. Mexico also has a shorter payback period for investment in new green buildings when compared to the U.S. and Canada, likely due to less expensive labor costs.

World Green Building Trends 2018: Mexico

When it comes to green retrofits, respondents are far more optimistic in Mexico, with 61 percent anticipating that green retrofits will comprise 15 percent or more of their total project in the next three years. Payback periods for retrofits are one year longer than for new green projects in Mexico.

Challenges to growth

Among Mexican respondents, higher first costs (perceived or actual) emerged as the top challenge to increased green building, though it’s worth noting that this percentage has reduced significantly in the last three years—down 13 points from 54 percent in 2015.

A lack of political support or incentives for green building is also considered a top challenge, with nearly 40 percent of Mexican respondents citing this as an obstacle. Rounding out the cited challenges for this market is “high levels of corruption in the industry/government”; respondents were three times as likely to cite this as a barrier to growth compared to the global average.

Overall, global green building activity continues to rise, with significant increases expected in 19 countries over the next three years. The study was conducted in 86 countries and surveyed 2,000 building professionals including architects, contractors, consultants, developers, engineering firms and investors.

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