Last night I attended the annual fundraising event for Southern Polytechnic State University’s Construction Management Program.  This event was full of construction industry leaders, academics, and construction management students and alums.  The keynote speaker was Jim Jacoby of Jacoby Development.

I was happy to see that overall the mood in the room was upbeat and positive about the future of private development and construction in Georgia (and across the country).  Even though many construction companies are relying solely on public projects to keep them going right now, they are planning for the future and making sure that they are ready to be competitive when the rebound starts.

The other big “take away” message I had from speaking to individuals and from Jacoby’s presentation is that the next wave of private development of any kind is going to be green—in virtually all respects.

Jacoby is definitely known for his visionary thinking.  His company is famous for developing Atlantic Station in midtown Atlanta—which involved turning the site of an old steel mill with significant environmental issues into one of the largest mixed-use communities with residential, office, retail, and entertainment all within a few blocks.  But it’s clear from his presentation that the next wave of development we will see from in this country from the private sector is going to be “green” in virtually every capacity.

For example, one of the big projects Jacoby is working on right now involves the gasification of solid waste (garbage that would otherwise go to a landfill) into gas that creates enough electricity to power over 25,000 homes from one plant.  He also talked about re-developing former auto manufacturing plant sites into alternative energy production centers or more “smart growth” developments like Atlantic Station.  In fact, just about every prospective project that Jacoby discussed served the dual purposes of being good for the community and the environment.

It’s refreshing to see that future private projects will not only use green initiatives, but that alternative energy, reduced carbon footprints, and sustainability will be the key features of these developments.  This suggests to me that green projects and developments are now profitable and desirable.  There’s no looking back now.