The trend in the building and construction industry to create better, greener homes has been rapidly growing in recent years. This is partly due to our recently found ability to measure value and sustainability in buildings and homes across the world. A huge factor in this change comes from the creation of LEED certification, and its continuing effort to measure and market sustainability.
In 1993, Rick Fedrizzi, David Gottfried, and Mike Italiano established the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to push for more environmentally-friendly construction practices and to combat the building and construction sector’s large, and growing, contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and energy use. According to the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, the sector accounts for almost 40% of energy-related CO2 emissions and 36% of final energy use worldwide.
Thus, the USGBC founders knew action was needed, and in 2000, the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system was unveiled. Currently on version 4.1, the sophisticated and comprehensive rating system continues to evolve and extend its reach. Now in 167 countries with 93,000 and counting projects underway, LEED has managed to cover 19.3 billion square feet of real estate across the globe.
The LEED program operates on a credit system. Buildings and homes can receive credits for various categories, ranging from site selection to energy efficiency to material usage, all leading to a tremendous impact on the sustainability of real estate. On average, LEED Gold-certified buildings have 34% lower CO2 emissions and consume 25% less energy and 11% less water. Across all levels of certification, the USGBC estimates the program has diverted more than 80 million tons of waste from landfills since its implementation.
The shift in construction practices that the LEED system has inspired not only impacts the environment, but also has significant positive economic repercussions. Global green building is doubling every three years and currently accounts for an estimated 60% of projects. This strong demand for green building translates into a premium in real estate value; the USGBC estimates this to be a 4% premium on average, but other estimates go as high as 16%.
This shows that the investment in environmentally-friendly construction pays off in the long-term, but economic benefits are recognized in secondary ways almost immediately. The USGBC reports 20% lower maintenance costs and 10% lower operating costs for commercial real estate owners and operators. There are also positive effects that are a little more difficult to measure, like increased productivity of employees and the increased brand of the building and tenants, both of which leads to increased value.
So, if green building is good for the environment and good for business, what is holding you back? Contact us today to learn how we can help you achieve your green building goals. Our sustainable materials and eco-friendly converted products can help you earn LEED credits in more ways than you’d expect.