bridges vol. 11, September 2006 / Green Buildings Focus
by Rick Fedrizzi & Jessica Sackett
The buildings in which we live, play, work, and learn have a profound impact on environmental and human health. In the United States alone, buildings account for:
- 37% of all energy use, including 68% of all electricity use
- 40% of raw materials consumption
- 88% of potable water supplies
- more than one-third of municipal solid waste streams
- nearly 40% of CO2 emissions, the primary greenhouse gas associated with global climate change.
In addition, the US Environmental Protection Agency classifies indoor air quality as one of the top five environmental health risks today. The concentration of air pollutants indoors can be two-to-five times greater than in the outside air. Some concentrations have been measured at more than 100 times greater. (Source: Building Momentum, report prepared for the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works by USGBC, http://www.usgbc.org/Docs/Resources/043003_hpgb_whitepaper.pdf)
Designing and building high performance "green" buildings - buildings that improve environmental, economic, health, and productivity performance - is thus critical to the future health of our planet and communities.
LEED - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
Thirteen years ago, pockets of interest in green building had developed throughout the building industry, but the trend lacked momentum. The disparate facets of the industry had differing needs, ideas, and concerns about green building, and multiple and contradictory definitions of "green" abounded. Green washing - espousing sustainable practices without validating the claims - was rampant, and the market was reluctant to accept an idea that lacked objective, verifiable standards. Then, in 1993, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) was founded to lead a national consensus on green building and to bring together the entire building industry to chart a path for market transformation. Today, more than 6,300 organizations belong to USGBC, representing the full spectrum of the building industry and actively participating in the development of the Council's programs and services.
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