USGBC task force diligently developed a rating system to evaluate a building’s resource efficiency and environmental impacts. This rating system, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), was the watershed event that precipi- tated an exponential shift from conventional to sustainable building delivery systems from 1998 on. The LEED rating system removed ambiguity in the loosely interpreted concepts associated with sustainability and green building. LEED’s newly articu- lated, cohesive rating system rapidly gained wide acceptance in both the private and public sectors and has significantly impacted the construction industry in the most energy- and materials-intensive economy in the world. By mid-2006, almost 400 buildings had been certified under the LEED for New Construction (LEED-NC), and over 2,600 were undergoing certification in the United States. Several other LEED rating systems have emerged, including LEED for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB), LEED for Core and Shell (LEED-CS), and LEED for Commercial Interiors (LEED- CI). To date, about 35 percent of USGBC-certified buildings are in the private sector. Private sector acceptance, coupled with support from the federal government and many state governments, has resulted in a near doubling of LEED certifications each year since 1998. If this trend holds, within 10 years high-performance green build- ings could constitute the majority of new construction in the United States.
An example of an exceptional LEED-certified building is illustrated in Figure 1.2A–C. The Robert Redford Building, the Santa Monica, California, office of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which opened in November 2003, received a Platinum certification from the USGBC, the highest of the four levels of certifica- tion, and was one of just a handful to receive this rating. The building is cooled largely by ocean breezes, uses about one-third of the energy of a typical office build- ing in Santa Monica, obtains 100 percent of its energy from carbon-free renewable resources, and has a 7.5-kW solar array on the roof. An existing building on the site was deconstructed, and 98 percent of its materials were recycled into the new build- ing. The building uses rainwater and graywater (recycled water from sinks) for flush- ing toilets and landscape irrigation. Waterless urinals in the building each save about 40,000 (151,000 liters) gallons of water a year by not requiring flushing, and the toi- lets have a dual-flush option, light or heavy, depending on the need. The building also boasts an exceptionally high level of indoor environmental quality due to its use of emissions-free materials and exceptional daylighting for its occupants.
Although other building assessment standards had been developed and imple- mented, LEED now predominates in the United States and has been wholly or partially adopted in several other countries. Spain, Canada, and China are all consid- ering LEED-based approaches to green building. LEED’s wide acceptance has likely resulted from its authors’ focus on fashioning LEED as a consensus-based rating sys- tem and on creating buildings that would have higher market value. However, their assumption that high-performance green buildings would differentiate themselves in the market through higher exchange value has yet to be fully tested because the first LEED-certified buildings are just becoming operational. But based on experience with energy-efficient buildings, which have a history of commanding a premium in the resale market, the likelihood is that the emerging class of green buildings will have significant added exchange value.
Another organization that has recently emerged as part of the growing green building movement is the Green Building Initiative (GBI). In cooperation with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), GBI has helped initiate more than 15 city and state-level green home building programs based on the NAHB’s Model Green Home Guidelines. GBI’s entrance into the market has had several other impacts on this movement. In 2005 GBI became the first organization to earn accred- itation as a Standard Developer under the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Following the trend in corporate America, GBI has led the green building movement toward a higher-profile commitment to consensus and transparency. Fol- lowing GBI’s lead, the USGBC also earned ANSI accreditation in 2006. In the same
Introduction and Overview