According to the U.S. Green Building Council, in 2008 at least eight states and 22 local governments endorsed green building policies. as compared with just one state in 2004. Many of the measures require new government buildings to meet the council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Other measures give commercial builders incentives, such as tax breaks and expedited permits. A few policies – such as one in Maryland’s Baltimore County – give tax credits to builders for green construction of homes.
Florida, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Oklahoma and South Dakota enacted laws in 2008 requiring that new, large state buildings meet LEED standards. More than a dozen cities and counties did the same, including Chandler (AZ), El Paso, Tampa, Monterey, (CA), Fairfax County (VA) and Starkville (MISS).
According to The Green Building Impact Report, written by Robert Watson:
Land Use. Between efficient location and the myriad of alternative transportation options supported by LEED, nearly 400 million vehicle miles traveled have been avoided by the occupants of LEED buildings. This grows to more than 4 billion vehicle miles by 2020.
Water. Water savings from LEED commercial buildings is expected to grow to more than 7% of all non-residential water use by 2020. The equivalent of 2008 LEED water savings would fill enough 32-ounce bottles to circle the Earth 300 times.
Energy. LEED saves energy on many different levels, including energy related to operations, commuting, water treatment and the lower energy embodied within materials. In operational energy terms, LEED buildings consume approximately 25% less on average than comparable commercial buildings. By 2020, these energy savings amount to more than 1.3 million tons of coal equivalent each year, representing approximately 78 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) avoided emissions.
Materials and Resources. LEED has helped spur an entire industry in green building materials. Certified projects to date have specified a total of more than $10 billion of green materials, which could grow to a cumulative amount exceeding $100 billion by 2020.
Indoor Environmental Quality. Indoor environmental quality is the most important contributor to the productivity attributes of LEED. Under a conservative calculation, companies with employees working in LEED buildings realized annual productivity gains exceeding $170 million resulting from improved indoor environmental quality, a number that will grow to nearly $2 billion of annual productivity improvements by 2020.
While some may have speculated that green building was a trend that would soon end, as it becomes embedded in local and state ordinances, it’s proving its durability as a good idea.
‘Green’ building codes sprout up across USA
(USA Today, 8/13/08)