The U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) Vice President of Education and Research, Peter Templeton, testified before Congress on Tuesday, May 15 about the important role of green building in meeting the challenges of global climate change and energy dependence, and the ability of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System to deliver immediate and measurable results.
Speaking before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Templeton stressed the fact that buildings are an often overlooked solution to reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The building sector is the single largest source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, accounting for 39% of such emissions in the U.S.
Green buildings, however, such as those certified by the LEED rating system, use 20-50% of normal energy needs and reduce CO2 emissions by 40% as compared to conventional buildings. Green buildings also conserve water, improve human health, increase productivity, and cost less to maintain and operate, making them a highly cost-effective way to immediately make dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
The hearing was scheduled by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to learn more about green building's "benefits to health, the environment, and the bottom line." Committee member Senator Frank Lautenburg (D-NJ) is sponsoring a bill that would make LEED Silver certification the minimum benchmark for all Federal buildings in order to reduce the Federal government's "carbon footprint." The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) owns or leases more than 8,500 buildings, comprising 340 million sf of office space. Currently, 12 federal agencies, including GSA, have made commitments to varying levels of LEED certification. In addition, 22 states and 75 local governments have also made commitments to use or encourage LEED.
“Building green is a highly effective strategy for meeting the challenges ahead of us,” said Templeton. “The technology to make substantial reductions in energy use and CO2 emissions in buildings already exists, which means that modest investments in energy-saving and other climate-friendly technologies can yield buildings and communities that are significantly more environmentally responsible, more profitable, and healthier places to live and work.”