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USGBC, LEED, and Green Buildings

usgbc_trans_logoHistory has shown that as technology advances and the world becomes increasingly more industrialized, environmental degradation inevitably occurs. However, technology has also begun to orient the world toward a new trend: one of reduction, conservation, and efficiency.

This movement can be seen clearly in the advent of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Desigin) building certification system. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in 1993, LEED recognizes building owners, architects, and homeowners for implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operation, and maintenance.

The LEED framework relies heavily on the use of renewable energy, gray water processing, and procedures for recycling industrial goods into building materials. As a result, LEED practices markedly reduce energy use and water use, conserve and reuse materials and resources, and improve indoor environmental quality, among other benefits. 

What is the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)?

  • USGBC is a nonprofit organization committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for the United States through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.
  • 78 regional USGBC chapters nationwide provide green building resources, education, and networking opportunities in their communities.
  • USGBC provides top quality educational programs on green design, construction, and operations for professionals from all sectors of the building industry. Thousands of designers, builders, suppliers, and managers have attended USGBC educational programs to gain practical knowledge, explore new business opportunities, and learn how to create healthier, more productive, and more efficient places to live and work.

What is LEED?

  • LEED(Leadership in Energy and Environmental Desigin)is an internationally recognized green building certification system.
  • There are four levels: LEED certified, LEED silver, LEED gold, LEED platinum.
  • LEED is flexible enough to apply to all building types, commercial as well as residential. It works throughout the building lifecycle: design and construction, operations and maintenance, tenant fitout, and significant retrofit.

    What are the key concepts in green building?

    • Energy: reducing energy demand by optimizing daylighting and using energy-efficient appliances, and employing renewable technologies like solar or wind to supply as much energy as possible.
    • Water: reducing demand with modern water-saving fixtures inside and water-efficient landscaping outside; reusing gray water from sinks and showers and capturing rainwater for irrigation and other uses.
    • Land use: minimizing impact on the site during planning and construction; high priority on reusing existing buildings and sites when possible; minimizing runoff to nearby waterways.
    • Materials and resources: minimizing construction debris, using materials that are recycled or whose manufacture and transportation has minimal environmental impact.
    • Indoor environmental quality: improving air quality with efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems; providing daylighting and views; using materials with few volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can have adverse health effects.

    Why build green?

    • Buildings in the United States are responsible for 39 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, 40 percent of energy consumption, 13 percent of water consumption, and 15 percent of Gross Domestic Product per year, making green building a source of significant economic and environmental opportunity.
    • Buildings are the number-one cause of carbon dioxide emissions, ahead of transportation and industry.
    • Green buildings have the potential to significantly reduce overall energy use, carbon dioxide emissions, water use, and solid waste.
    • In the U.S., people spend approximately 90 percent  of their time indoors. Green buildings typically have better indoor air quality and lighting, making their occupants healthier and more productive.

    Why is there now a demand for green building?

    • Unprecedented level of government initiatives.
    • Heightened consumer demand for green construction.
    • Improvements in sustainable materials.

    Source: U.S. Green Building Council