With a United Nations Climate Change Conference/Buildings Day backdrop, the U.S. Green Building Council committed to scaling green buildings to more than 5 billion square feet over the next five years through the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies) green building rating systems.
“Buildings must continue be a key focus area for countries to reach carbon emissions reduction goals,” said USGBC President Roger Platt at last month’s Paris gathering, dubbed COP21. “By encouraging the use of green building rating systems like LEED and EDGE in both the public and private sectors, countries can log immediate and measurable reductions of these emissions as their building stock uses less energy and water, [reduces] waste, saves money, and creates a healthier environment.”
LEED is the world’s most widely used green building rating system; certified projects can be found in more than 150 countries, with nearly 2 million square feet of space certified daily. The EDGE certification system enables design teams and project owners in developing countries to assess the most cost-effective ways to incorporate energy and water saving options into commercial and residential buildings. USGBC’s sister organization, Green Business Certification Inc., is the exclusive certification body for LEED globally and EDGE in India, and also certifies EDGE projects in other countries. GBCI oversees a portfolio of additional rating systems and programs that support carbon reductions as a way to mitigate climate change. As part of commitments announced in Paris, USGBC is eyeing work over the next five years in:
- Workforce capacity. Expand green building education platform world wide and double non-English offerings.
- Finance. Advance building performance transparency metrics for the financial community, including tools for investors, lenders and underwriters through initiatives recognizing and rewarding green attributes in property portfolios.
- Government outreach. Continue to advocate for and assist with the development of policies and strategies for public and private sector green building at all levels of government throughout the world.
- Measurement and accountability. Support tools that enable and encourage building performance transparency: the LEED Dynamic Plaque, which looks at performance feedback at the building scale; the Green Building Information Gateway (www.GBIG.org), which consolidates building achievement information; and, benchmarking ordinances, which create accountability and incentive for improvement.
USGBC and 25 peer councils from around the world unveiled commitments at the Paris Conference to transform the sustainability of buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Buildings in general account for about one-third of global emissions, according to USGBC, which characterizes green buildings as one of the most cost-effective solutions to climate change, and credits them with “generating significant environmental, economic and societal benefits.”