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Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

How LEED combats climate change

One of the goals that guided the development of LEED v4 was reversing a LEED building’s contribution to global climate change.

The Earth’s climate is changing, and 97 percent of climate scientists agree that it is likely due to human activities. So where does that leave us and the rest of the building industry?

Buildings account for more than one-quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), according to the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction. Add in other infrastructure and activities, such as transportation, that is associated with buildings, and that number jumps.

By building green, we can reduce the impact our buildings have on contributing to climate change, while also building resilience into our homes and communities.

LEED vs climate change

One of the goals that guided the development of LEED v4 was reversing a LEED building’s contribution to global climate change. High-performing green buildings, particularly LEED-certified buildings, play a key role in reducing the negative climate impacts of the built environment. For this reason, 35 of the 100 total points in LEED v4 are distributed to reward climate change mitigation strategies.

The LEED process addresses a structure’s planning, design, construction, operations and end of life as well as considering energy, water, indoor environmental quality, materials selection, and location. Green buildings reduce landfill waste, enable alternative transportation use and encourage retention and creation of vegetated land areas and roofs.

LEED rewards thoughtful decisions about building location, with credits that encourage compact development and connection with transit and amenities. When a building consumes less water, the energy otherwise required to withdraw, treat and pump that water from the source to the building are avoided. Additionally, less transport of materials to and from the building cuts associated fuel consumption.

Here are some of the ways that LEED weighs the various credits and strategies so that LEED projects can mitigate their contribution to global climate change:

  • GHG Emissions Reduction from Building Operations Energy Use: To target energy use reductions directly associated with building operations. This includes all building systems and operations within the building or associated grounds that rely on electricity or other fuel sources for energy consumption.
  • GHG Emissions Reduction from Transportation Energy Use: To target energy use reductions associated with the transportation of building occupants, employees, customers, visitors, business travel, etc.
  • GHG Emissions Reduction from the Embodied Energy of Materials and Water Use: To target GHG-emissions reductions associated with the energy use and processes required in the extraction, production, transportation, conveyance, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, use, posttreatment, and disposal of materials, products, and processed water. Any measures that directly reduce the use of potable water, non-potable water, or raw materials (e.g. reduced packaging, building reuse) will indirectly reduce energy as well because of the embodied energy associated with these product life cycles.
  • GHG Emissions Reduction from a Cleaner Energy Supply: To target actions and measures that support a cleaner, fewer GHG-emissions intensive energy supply and a greater reliance on renewable sources of energy.
  • Global Warming Potential Reduction from Non-Energy Related Drivers: To address the non-energy related climate change drivers (e.g. albedo, carbon sinks, non-energy related GHG emissions) and identifies actions that reduce these contributions to climate change (e.g. land use changes, heat island reduction, reforestation, refrigerant purchases).

Some of the top credits in LEED v4 BD+C, ID+C, and O+M that are associated with mitigating global climate change:

  • LT Credit: Surrounding Density and Diverse Uses
  • LT Credit: Access to Quality Transit / Alternative Transportation
  • WE Credit: Outdoor Water Use Reduction
  • WE Credit: Indoor Water Use Reduction
  • EA Credit: Optimize Energy Performance
  • EA Credit: Renewable Energy Production / Renewable Energy and Carbon Offsets
  • EA Credit: Enhanced Refrigerant Management
  • EA Credit: Green Power and Carbon Offsets
  • MR Credit: Building Life-Cycle Impact Reduction / Interiors Life-Cycle Impact Reduction

To learn more about LEED and how it can help reduce the impact of global climate change, head to Greenbuild in Boston this November 8–10 (or check out our Greenbuild events in China or India). Greenbuild features LEED workshops, hundreds of green building educational sessions and inspiring speakers and events

World’s biggest carbon emitters convene in L.A.

Published on 23 Sep 2015 Written by Rick Fedrizzi Posted in International

This article was originally published on Huffington Post. 

News broke in November of last year that the world’s largest developing nation and the world’s most developed nation would ramp up efforts to work together in fighting climate change. President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping made a historic joint announcement on climate change in 2014, establishing ambitious climate pledges and committing to work together, and with other countries, to achieve a global climate agreement in Paris this December.

At the upcoming U.S.-China Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities Summit in Los Angeles, both nations are expected to announce actions to combat ongoing climate change. A leader in energy efficiency, Los Angeles is an ideal city to host the summit, the first major event held since the 2014 presidential agreement between the two countries. This convening could not be timelier for the City of Los Angeles, as Mayor Eric Garcetti released the city’s first-ever sustainability plan in April of this year, titled Sustainable City pLAn.

The Sustainable City pLAn focuses on the three pillars of sustainability: economic, environmental and social; and sets the bold goal of reducing city emissions by 80 percent by 2050, with a short term target of a 30 percent reduction in emissions by 2017, both compared to 1990 levels. Buildings are heavily targeted under the mayor’s plan, as they are the largest consumers of electricity in the city and are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Los Angeles has already established a successful approach with its Green Building Program.

The Green Building Program requires larger structures to be certified under the 15-year-old LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System and mandates that all new municipal construction or major renovations to municipally owned buildings must achieve, at minimum, LEED Silver certification. To date, the city has certified more than 50 of their buildings, making up more than 2 million square feet of building space, under LEED. With the new plan, the city aims for a 30 percent reduction in energy use across all building types by 2035—backed up by an array of additional policy measures and actions to drive improvement in all building types, including private sector.


Rick Fedrizzi

CEO & Founding Chairman U.S. Green Building Council

Member employees, USGBC staff, USGBC board

Second Nature and USGBC announce 2015 winners

Second Nature and USGBC announce 2015 winners in higher education climate leaders competition

Published on 8 Oct 2015Written by Aline Peterson Posted in Media

WASHINGTON, DC—(Oct. 8, 2015)—Second Nature, a national nonprofit that works to build a sustainable and positive global future through collaboration with leadership networks in higher education, in partnership with the Center for Green Schools, announced that two academic institutions have been selected to receive the sixth annual Climate Leadership Awards.

The awards recognize innovative and advanced leadership in sustainability, climate change mitigation and resilience at college and university campuses that participate in Second Nature’s Climate Commitments. This year’s recipients show leadership through practices, partnerships and initiatives designed to tackle some of the greatest modern challenges. Examples of commitments made by these institutions include ongoing pursuit of green building practices, the development of a campus culture that embraces local sourcing, alternative transportation methods, innovative partnerships with their surrounding communities and cultivation of a sense of individual responsibility among students, faculty and staff.

“The Climate Leadership Awards celebrate and support those at the leading edge of sustainability and climate action in higher education,” said Tim Carter, president of Second Nature. “We are continually impressed by what our network is capable of, and know they will keep pushing what is possible for higher education further.”

This year marks the most competitive year yet, with close to 50 institutions vying for only two awards: one for a two-year and one for a four-year institution. The winners were chosen from a pool of 19 finalists: seven finalists in the two-year category, and 12 in the four-year category.

“The leadership demonstrated by this year’s Climate Leadership Award winners is inspirational. These schools, their students, faculty and staff are committed to change through action,” said Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools at USGBC. “By choosing to address sustainability issues head-on, involving members of their broad communities and drawing on their resources as places of higher learning, these schools show that great achievement is possible with dedication and a willingness to innovate and iterate. Congratulations to both of this year’s winners for so clearly demonstrating that where we learn matters!”

 The 2015 Climate Leadership Award Winners are:

Two-Year Institution:

Western Technical College, La Crosse, WI

Four-Year Institution:

Appalachian State University, Boone, NC

Aline Peterson

Communications Manager U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff


Bounce back faster from disaster (Building Safety)

Published on 15 May 2015Written by Grant Olear Posted in Advocacy and policy

Over the past decade, scores of devastating weather events across the globe have taken countless lives and destroyed many of the buildings people once called home.

As natural disasters become more and more common, it is imperative that building codes be updated in step with the ever-changing environment in order to adequately protect building occupants. Code revisions must arise from an integrated approach where all aspects of planning, construction, operation, and demolition are considered to ensure that human health and safety are a priority.

Planning for extreme weather events is essential, but we need to plan smarter as climate change disrupts our understanding of what’s normal, what’s predictable, and what’s likely. Currently, the majority of climate-related decisions are based on historic climate data and past trends, with the inherent assumption that the climate will remain relatively stable in the future. Observed effects of climate change include higher temperatures, an increase in the number and size of drought-prone areas, higher storm intensity, sea level rise, accelerated rates of coastal erosion, increased water salinity and suspended solids, and increased runoff.

Constructing above-code green buildings is a cost-effective way to increase resiliency while lessening the potential impacts of extreme weather events and ongoing climate change.

In order to overcome the growing threats associated with global climate change, we must continuously look over the horizon to foreseeable and unforeseeable crises and see what plans are on the table, what preparations need to be made, and what assets are in place. .

Grant Olear

Green Building Policy Associate U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff

Green building and climate change

Published on 4 Mar 2015Written by Nora Knox Posted in Industry

Although many environmental impacts are associated with buildings and addressed by rating systems such as LEED, climate change deserves special consideration because buildings and land-use are responsible for a large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions. To be effective, the policies that are emerging at the local, state, and federal levels to regulate greenhouse gas emissions must reflect a clear understanding of the connection between climate change and the built environment. Unfortunately, it is not enough for green building to lessen the effects that humans have on our climate. It must also prepare us for the inevitable consequences of climate change on our homes, communities, and society as a whole. A lower-carbon future will not only have higher-performing buildings but also require higher-performing communities.

The built environment, including buildings and transportation systems, accounts for more than two-thirds of all greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions come from many components of the built environment, including building systems and energy use, transportation, water use and treatment, land-cover change, materials, and construction. By improving the efficiency of buildings and communities, we can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon emissions provide a useful metric for many aspects of green buildings and communities, including energy, water, solid waste, materials, and transportation, but green building involves more than reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is important to set goals for other issues as well, such as indoor air quality, human health, and habitat protection. This comprehensive goal-setting process encourages programs and policies that will lead to sustainable communities.

Flexibility and adaptability are increasingly important attributes of green projects. Although the long-term effects of climate change are uncertain, we know that sea levels will be higher, temperatures higher, droughts longer and more widespread, and flooding more intense. How different regions will experience these changes will vary considerably, and building professionals will have to assess the likely threats to their communities and respond accordingly.

Nora Knox

Digital Marketing ManagerU.S. Green Building Council

Member employees, USGBC staff

LEED Certification

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non profit organization that certifies sustainable businesses, homes, hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods. USGBC is dedicated to expanding green building practices and education, and its LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™.

Chemline, Inc. is a member of The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and has the potential to provide LEED points.