Green building has emerged over the past decade as a robust movement to create high-performance, energy-efficient structures that improve occupant comfort and well-being while minimizing environmental impacts. Supported by organizations such as the U.S. Green Building Council and its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, both public and private entities are increasingly pursuing green buildings in the institutional, commercial, and residential sectors. While this progress is impressive, for a number of reasons it has not included significant numbers of affordable housing projects. These reasons, several of which are unique to affordable housing, include: an almost exclusive focus on "first costs," the existence of per unit cost caps, regulatory rigidity that limits green innovation, and a finance system that fails to recognize the long-term value of green investments.
The Hennepin County Board has set policies and goals for the county to lead by example in the areas of Integrated Vegetation and Pest Management (IPM), toxicity and waste reduction, recycling, and environmentally preferable purchasing. By being good environmental stewards in the way we conduct our day-to-day operations, the county can set a positive example for our businesses and residents.
Gov. Rendell is pushing for Pennsylvania's legislature to enact a state building code that would require environmentally friendly, energy-efficient construction. Whether he wants both residential and commercial development included is not yet known.
One of the most important attempts to reduce the environmental impacts of the built environment is through the construction of green buildings. This article examines the geography of the emerging green building industry through a study of the spatial distribution of two different elements of that industry. The first element is the location and diffusion of green buildings themselves as certified by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) through their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. There is a clear shift from an original concentration in major coastal cities to a more even distribution across the country, with broad representation across commercial, public, and nonprofit owners. The second area of study is the spatial distribution of LEED-accredited professionals, who are accredited by the USGBC to oversee the certification process. The distribution of these professionals matches existing concentrations of population, suggesting two different geographies of building green.
The LEED green building certification system is the preeminent program for rating the design, construction and operation of green buildings. 35,000 projects are currently participating in the LEED system, comprising over 4.5 billion square feet of construction space in all 50 states and 91 countries.
The LEED for Neighborhood Development Rating System integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism and green building into the first national system for neighborhood design. LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a development's location and design meet accepted high levels of environmentally responsible, sustainable development. LEED for Neighborhood Development is a collaboration among USGBC, the Congress for the New Urbanism and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The International Code Council, a membership association dedicated to building safety and fire prevention, develops the codes used to construct residential and commercial buildings, including homes and schools. Most U.S. cities, counties and states that adopt codes choose the International Codes developed by the International Code Council.
The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) released a new report, Building Green: Overcoming Barriers in Philadelphia, that identifies obstacles to green building in Philadelphia and recommends solutions to dissolving those barriers.
Shari Shapiro is an attorney and LEED Accredited Professional. Ms. Shapiro focuses her practice on green building law, which includes sustainable project financing, regulatory drafting, land use approvals, contracts, and conflict resolution. Ms. Shapiro is the Sustainability Coordinator for Obermayer’s Sustainability Initiative.
Green Options Media’s rapidly growing network of environmentally-focused blogs provides users with a broad spectrum of information for making sustainable choices. Launched in February, 2007, Green Options Media has grown into a leader among “green” news and information sources aimed at general audiences.