Benefits of Green Building | U.S. Green Building Council
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Benefits of Green Building

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Buildings are responsible for an enormous amount of national energy use, resource consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. As the demand for more sustainable building options increases, green construction is becoming increasingly profitable and desirable within the U.S. construction market.

Buildings account for almost 40 percent of national CO2 emissions and out-consume both the industrial and transportation sectors, but LEED-certified buildings have 34 percent lower CO2 emissions, consume 25 percent less energy and 11 percent less water, and have diverted more than 80 million tons of waste from landfills.

The market is responding to these cost savings and environmental benefits at a dramatic rate; this year, 40-48 percent of new, nonresidential construction projects will be considered green.

Green building is cost-effective

  • Upfront investment in green building makes properties more valuable, with an average expected increase in value of four percent. By virtue of lowered maintenance and energy costs the return on investment from green building is rapid: green retrofit projects are generally expected to pay for themselves in just seven years.
  • Green buildings reduce day-to-day costs year-over-year. LEED buildings report almost 20 percent lower maintenance costs than typical commercial buildings, and green building retrofit projects typically decrease operation costs by almost 10 percent in just one year.

The benefits of green building are expanding the market and breaking records

  • Interest in green building is growing rapidly. The sector made up only two percent of nonresidential building starts in 2005, but by 2012, that number jumped to 41 percent. Now it’s estimated that 40-48 percent of new nonresidential construction will be green, representing up to $145 billion.
  • As of August 2015, more than 13.8 billion square feet of building space is LEED-certified. More than 675 million square feet of real estate space became LEED-certified in 2014, representing a 13.2 percent jump from 2013. The green building market is poised to break this record again in 2015 with LEED-certification being reported as a top sustainable goal for both public and private organizations.
  • Extending beyond new construction, green building is accessible through retrofit projects. The green share of these projects is expected to more than triple by 2030, representing an investment of $960 billion.

LEED buildings perform better and are internationally acclaimed

  • LEED is the international standard of excellence in green building, with more than 72,500 LEED projects in over 150 countries as of August 2015.
  • 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.

Green buildings use natural resources efficiently, lowering both utility bills and impact on the environment

  • Buildings are positioned to have an enormous impact on the environment and climate change. At 41 percent of total U.S. energy consumption, buildings out-consume the industrial (30 percent) and transportation (29 percent) sectors.
  • Buildings use about 14 percent of all potable water (15 trillion gallons per year), but water-efficiency efforts in green buildings are expected to reduce water use by 15 percent and save more than 10 percent in operating costs. Retrofitting one out of every 100 American homes with water-efficient fixtures could avoid about 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is the equivalent of removing 15,000 cars from the road for one year.
  • 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.
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