Joanne Littlefair is a Senior International Trade Specialist at the International Trade Administration
Increasing urbanization worldwide is a megatrend driving global export opportunity for U.S. building product manufacturers, according to a new report, 2016 Top Markets Building Products and Sustainable Construction, from the International Trade Administration (ITA). With more than half the world population now living in urban areas and more would-be residents flooding into cities daily, cities are challenged to create built environments in which increasingly dense populations can thrive.
This megatrend fuels ITA’s projection that in 2018 some $39.4 billion in global export opportunities will await U.S. exporters of seven categories of building products. U.S. manufacturers of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) products, lighting, plumbing products, wood products, insulation, windows and doors and glass for construction are globally competitive and well positioned to respond to six key trends driven by the urbanization megatrend.
The ITA Top Markets study ranks 75 international markets in terms of 2018 sector export prospects, supported by 10 country case studies. The study elaborates six focal areas capturing policy and commercial attention as global markets seek increased building performance.
In the face of natural and man-made risks, the ability to circumvent, withstand, and recover from impacts is essential to economic and social vitality. Resilience is a concept receiving considerable attention from governments, investors, international organizations and private sector construction stakeholders. Buildings have a clear role to play in this sphere.
- Energy efficiency
Fully one third of world energy use is estimated to occur inside buildings, so improving building energy efficiency can have huge impacts on energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions. Improving energy efficiency can be expected to be a continuing core focus throughout buildings.
- Water efficiency
Water shortages and drought conditions experienced around the globe underscore the importance of buildings in achieving more sustainable environments. Estimated to account for 20 percent of global water use, buildings have much to contribute to increasing water efficiency. The nexus of water efficiency and energy efficiency also is increasingly recognized.
- Net-zero energy buildings (NZEB)
The NZEB concept has captured considerable attention globally. Government policies and private initiatives can be seen being geared to designing, building and operating structures in which the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy generated on site.
- Healthy buildings
Notably among institutional and commercial buildings, and increasingly across all building types, there is a focus on increasing building value through a healthy building approach. This emphasizes indoor air quality, use of low-toxicity materials, occupant thermal comfort and access to natural light, among other factors.
- Smart buildings
A smart building is generally understood as one reflecting a holistic approach to a building’s design, construction and operation to maximize efficiencies, occupant comfort and other functional priorities. The building is a system of systems that communicate within the building and externally to optimize performance. Smart buildings create immediate opportunity for design services and information and communication technologies. They also create demand for high-quality building products with inherent efficiency and interoperable functionality compatible with smart building design.
For additional information on these export opportunity drivers, and how they manifest across the 10 case study markets, download the full report, 2016 Top Markets Building Products and Sustainable Construction.
ITA trade specialists around the globe stand ready to assist U.S. entities with their international market development objectives. U.S. building products are globally competitive and opportunity exists for companies of all sizes.