Energy + Enviroment

Prioritizing people's health and well-being

USGBC (United States Green Building Council) public opinion research found that almost a third of respondents have had direct, personal experience with bad health associated with poor environments or living situations. We spend about 90 percent of our time indoors and green buildings create spaces that promote health and comfort.

Studies found an improvement on some area of health including fewer colds, sinus infections, or headaches; and reduced blood pressure, hypertension (which is a precursor to heart disease), and other cardiovascular conditions.

Green buildings positively affect public health. Improving indoor air quality can reduce absenteeism and work hours affected by asthma, respiratory allergies, depression and stress and self-reported improvements in productivity.

Better methods of keeping pollutants out of buildings, as well as superior ventilation systems that dissipate pollutants effectively work together to improve air quality in buildings. Improved maintenance practices and policies ensure that these systems are kept clean and functional throughout the building lifespan.

Green buildings promote resilience-enhancing designs, technologies, materials and methods. To support these efforts, green buildings promote the use of durable materials, thoughtful site selection, energy efficiency, onsite renewable generation and more.

Enhanced energy efficiency upgrades have been shown to reduce indoor air contaminants linked to chronic illnesses, control environmental contaminants (dust mites, mold/moisture) that can trigger respiratory symptoms, and improve symptoms of asthma and other respiratory health conditions.

An Environmental solution

Green buildings help reduce carbon, water, energy and waste. The Department of Energy reviewed 22 LEED-certified buildings managed by the General Services Administration and saw CO2 emissions were 34 percent lower, they consumed 25 percent less energy and 11 percent less water, and diverted more than 80 million tons of waste from landfills.

The IPCC report calls for a reduction in energy demand and strong electrification of the building sector, as well as a shift to high-performance lighting, appliances and water heating equipment. Green buildings help building owners and managers, architects, developers and product manufacturers navigate this transition and verify performance.

According to the EPA, heating and cooling accounts for about 43 percent of all energy use in the country, which contributes to air pollution and generates the largest amounts of greenhouse gases. By improving energy efficiency, green buildings also help reduce indoor air pollutants related to serious health issues.

LEED projects are getting results across the board, scoring an average ENERGY STAR score of 89 points out of a possible 100. In a study of 7,100 certified construction projects, more than 90 percent were improving energy performance by at least 10 percent.

Buildings account for 12 percent of total water consumed in the U.S. while the average person uses 80-100 gallons of water per day. Water-efficiency efforts in green buildings help reduce water use and promote rainwater capture, as well as the use of non-potable sources.

Standard building practices use and waste millions of tons of materials each year; green building uses fewer resources and minimizes waste. LEED projects are responsible for diverting more than 80 million tons of waste from landfills, and by 2030 that number is expected to grow to 540 million tons.