Green Building: USGBC Incentives Go Beyond the Trend
Green-ness has become a trendy and marketable concept, but for many, it's a matter of ethics. Corporations of late, either for marketing or ethical reasons, are more frequently attempting to get on the green bandwagon by building more environmentally conscious, sustainable corporate buildings, factories, and even city towers. Homeowners, too, want to reap the many benefits of making their homes more green by either building their homes themselves or improving them along the way. For those purposes, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), based in Washington DC, is self-described as "committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings."
According to the USGBC website, buildings in the US are responsible for 39% of CO2 emissions, 40% of energy consumption, 65% of waste output, 12% of water consumption, 71% of electricity consumption, and 15% of gross domestic product per year. USGBC contends that building with a more eco-conscious ethic can meet 85% of U.S. future demands for energy as well as possibly generate 2.5 million jobs given a national commitment to the effort of green building practices.
So, where do we start? First, builders should strive for LEED certification credits through USGBC. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized green building certification program. LEED provides third-party verification that a building, or even a community, is "designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emission reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts."
Methods of gaining LEED certification are plenty and growing at an exciting rate. As those options grow, LEED is expanding with them. LEED has officially launched a pilot program, "LEED for Retail," which claims to encourage "forward-thinking retailers to integrate green building design, construction and operation into ground-up construction, retail interior, and build-out products." Next we have the "LEED Volume Program," which is aimed at making LEED certification easier and cheaper for large-scale property developers. Beyond that, LEED also offers programs for new construction, existing buildings, commercial interiors, core and shell, schools, healthcare, homes, and a pilot neighborhood development program.
USGBC and their LEED certification program have encouraged more large-scale corporations to become LEED certified as it not only preserves our planet but also makes those companies more marketable since going green appears to be a growing trend. Utilizing eco-friendly, sustainable building materials, products, and practices will hopefully become a mainstay of construction and design. Throughout the next week or so, I intend to cover such advances in the the ever-advancing world of green building.