Green Buildings Sustainable building upgrades lower energy costs and create more comfortable living

The Problem

Energy efficiency upgrades and design elements in buildings have the potential to drastically lower U.S. energy demand while providing benefits such as cost savings, carbon pollution reduction, and decreased water use. Buildings currently account for nearly 75% of U.S. electricity demand, and incorporating sustainable design into the built environment can help cities become self-sufficient while increasing affordability of buildings, resilience and promoting job creation.

Nationwide, lawmakers are implementing green infrastructure policies that enable communities to become more resource efficient. One of the most ubiquitous standards is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification that recognizes best-in-class buildings demonstrating efficiency from construction to operating to disposal. Several states require adherence to or promote LEED standards as they set new protocol for future developments in the public and private sectors.

Green Buildings

Fast Facts

Green buildings cost only marginally more to build, and result in significantly higher sale and rental rates, as well as tremendous savings on energy costs over time.

Buildings in the U.S. currently account for 38% of carbon emissions and 73% of U.S. electricity consumption.

LEED buildings save taxpayers money. For example, the U.S. General Services Administration LEED-certified government buildings cost 19% less to operate compared to the national average. 

LEED buildings consume 25-30% less energy and decrease water use by up to 15% compared with a conventional building, while also resulting in higher occupant satisfaction and carbon emission reductions.

Legislation

State legislators can encourage energy efficiency in the built environment by mandating state buildings meet certain specifications or by enabling rebate and incentive programs that support homeowners and businesses looking to incorporate green building technology.

  • A Montana (HB464) bill would incentivize state agencies and the university system to opt into energy efficiency upgrades for basic operations and maintenance.  
  • A bill introduced in Washington State (HB1278) would encourage private investments in efficiency upgrades by mandating building owners publicly disclose their energy use.
  • Several states provide financial incentives to residents who incorporate energy efficiency measures in new buildings and retrofits, including New York (A10684).

Resources

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