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March 2007 News

Nineteen states in the U.S. have adopted resolutions, passed laws, and issued orders for green building programs. Only two of these states are in the Southeast: Arkansas and Florida. The others are along the West Coast, in the northeast and in the Great Lakes area. This activity is about encouraging sustainable building. The green building initiatives are based on the US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system for buildings (four levels: certified, silver, gold and platinum). Forty-eight cities in and outside of states that have adopted resolutions or laws for sustainable buildings have taken the initiative on the local level. It is not surprising that they include cities that have a strong creative class (see January Soupcon). They include Dallas, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, OR, and Salt Lake City. New York state is on the program. New York City’s School Construction Authority plans to have its green school construction standards in place by 2007. Illinois is

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not yet in the program, but Chicago wanted to achieve LEED silver rating for all new city buildings in 2006. The city also encourages private green development by cutting permitting time in half for a silver-level buildings. San Francisco is following Chicago’s lead by giving priority to building permits for new and renovated buildings qualifying for the gold rating. Santa Monica also prioritizes green permitting. Houston, in a state that is not on the program, requires all city-owned buildings over 10,000sq ft to be LEED-certified, if it is “reasonable” to do so. LEED certification does not come free. Front end investment may increase from 1% to 15 %. But lower operation and maintenance costs are expected to offset

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higher investment costs. Savings in heating and lighting could be substantial over the life of the buildings. Also, beneficial externalities are usually not fully accounted for, like a healthier building climate, recycling incentives in connection with the use of building materials, secondary energy savings, etc. All these benefits should tip the balance in favor of sustainable building technology. Ten federal agencies have green building programs, among them the EPA, GSA, DOE, Dept of State, and the Dept of Defense. Schools are especially attractive objects for green building standards. Among the subjects addressed are acoustics, master planning, mold prevention, and joint use of facilities (from ENR, Nov 13, 2006, p. 10-11).

 
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