I started this blog with a post about the first appeal of a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification because it was a significant development in the world of green building.  But to understand the significance of the appeal, you must have an understanding of green building and the LEED rating system.

What does the term “green building” really mean and why are designers, owners and construction professionals working overtime on sustainability directives? Green building is the generic term relating to projects that combine a number of sustainability initiatives in design, construction, and operations of buildings including site planning, indoor environmental quality, materials use, and energy and water management. By combining these practices, buildings across the nation are creating environmental benefits, which will have lasting affects.  In fact, when executed correctly, green building has the capacity to reduce:

  • Energy use by as much as 50 percent
  • CO2 emissions up to nearly 40 percent
  • Water use by up to 40 percent
  • And solid waste by as much as 70 percent

Green building practices – including energy efficiency – are quickly becoming the norm.

In this age of rising energy costs and reducing carbon footprints, the construction of new buildings and the facility management of existing structures now require the implementation of energy-efficient operations and sustainable building strategies.

Moreover, with a green-friendly administration in the White House, mandates have been put in place for sustainable building practices in major cities across the U.S.  In fact, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 219–212 in June of 2009 to pass H.R. 2454 (now H.R. 2998), the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.  H.R. 2998 will make a number of changes in energy and environmental policies largely aimed at reducing emissions of gases that contribute to global warming.  The bill will limit or cap the quantity of certain greenhouse gases emitted from facilities, which generate electricity, and from other industrial activities between 2012 and 2050.

In addition to an unprecedented number of government initiatives and tax incentives, green building standards (such as LEED) are increasingly being written into building codes for commercial and public buildings, and there is a heightened residential demand for green building.  And, recent years have seen improvements and cost-reductions in sustainable materials, making it much easier and cheaper to “build green.”

In short, demand for green building is growing because we are making it a priority.  Individuals and businesses are trying to optimize building performance and enhance building environments by using innovative strategies to reduce energy and water consumption and to use renewable energy resources for more sustainable communities.

The next two posts in this three-part posting will review how the LEED rating system has defined the standards for green building and why careful legal navigation is required to achieve the desired results without conflict or disputes.