Green Buildings

The U.S. Office of the Federal Environmental Executive defines green buildings as “the practice of (1) increasing the efficiency with which buildings and their sites use energy, water and materials, and (2) reducing building impacts on human health and the environment through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal – the complete life cycle.” A 2009 White House Executive Order (EO 13514) mandates that 15% of Federal buildings will be green by end of FY2015. Such buildings must use 30% less energy than a typical building. By 2015, some 400,000 buildings, both public and private, are projected to be certified as meeting the criteria of Energy Star, LEED or Green Globes.

With 40% of total energy consumption in the United States attributable to the built infrastructure, there clearly is a great incentive to address this issue. Happily, energy costs, which represent 30% of building operating costs, can be reduced by up to 35%. Helpful tools include The Continental Automated Buildings Association’s (CABA) BIQ Tool for integrating smart technology into building operating systems, the National Electrical Manufacturers’ Association’s High Performance Buildings Initiative, and the ANSI Energy Efficiency Standardization Coordination Collaborative Roadmap of Relevant Standards, Codes, and Conformity Assessment Programs. Other applicable standards are the ANSI/ASHRAE/IES 90.1-13, Energy Standard for Buildings and ASTM’s E917-13, Standard Practice for Measuring Life-Cycle Costs of Buildings and Building Systems.

The above are examples of a profusion of activities, tools and undertakings related to green buildings currently underway. Green building rating systems include the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards, and other standards and roadmaps from organizations such as The International Code Council (ICC 700 National Green Building Standard), ASHRAE, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES), and the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes. Other initiatives of note include:

  • In August 2014, ASHRAE, USGBC, ICC, AIA and IES signed a memorandum of collaboration on the development of both Standard 189-1, the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) and LEED. The five members “aim to create a comprehensive framework for jurisdictions seeking to implement and adopt green building regulations and codes and/or provide incentives for voluntary leadership programs such as LEED.”
  • Through the Energy Star program, EPA promotes partnerships with homebuilders, office managers, product manufacturers and others to improve the energy efficiency of homes, buildings, and various building components and appliances. Over 25,000 buildings have earned the Energy Star certification. EPA provides guidance on topics such as green power, roofs and materials; waste and water reduction; greenscapes; toxics; indoor air; and smart growth. With other Federal agencies, EPA sponsored the Whole Building Design Guide and the Federal Green Construction Guide for Specifiers to help agencies meet various mandates as established by statutes and executive orders, as well as EPA and DOE program recommendations.”

In promoting non-regulatory strategies for achieving green buildings, EEMI will emphasize consensus standards and voluntary initiatives such as those highlighted above.

Focal area lead: Dr. Melissa Keeley – Assistant Professor of Geography and of Public Policy and Public Administration, GW.