Benefits of Green Building | U.S. Green Building Council
Please upgrade your browser. This site requires a newer version to work correctly. Read more
Published on
Posted in Media
Published on
Posted in Media

This article was updated in January 2017.

Buildings are responsible for an enormous amount of global 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 international construction market.

In the United States alone, 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. 1

The market is responding to these cost savings and environmental benefits at a dramatic rate. According to a Dodge Data & Analytics World Green Building Trends 2016 SmartMarket Report, the global green building sector continues to double every three years, with survey respondents from 70 countries reporting 60 percent of their projects will be green by 2018. 2

Green building is cost-effective

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

  • The green building sector is outpacing overall construction growth in the United States and will continue to rise. By 2018, green construction will directly contribute 1.1 million jobs and $75.6 billion in wages by 2018 in the United States. The industry’s direct contribution to U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is also expected to reach $303.5 billion from 2015-2018. LEED building construction projects are estimated contribute 386,000 jobs and $26.2 billion in wages by 2018. 7
  • As of January 2017, more than 17.1 billion square feet of building space is LEED-certified worldwide and an approximately 2.2 million square feet achieves LEED certification each day.

LEED buildings perform better and are internationally acclaimed

  • LEED is the international standard of excellence in green building, with more than 89,600 LEED projects in 164 countries and territories.
  • 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. 8
  • 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. 9, 10 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. 11
  • 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. 12

Related videos



1 U.S. Department of Energy (2011). Re-Assessing Green Building Performance: A Post Occupancy Evaluation of 22 Buildings.
2 Dodge Research and Analytics (2016). World Green Building Trends 2016 SmartMarket Report.
3 McGraw Hill Construction (2012). World Green Buildings Trends: Business Benefits Driving New and Retrofit Market Opportunities In Over 60 Countries
4 U.S. Department of Energy (2011). Re-Assessing Green Building Performance: A Post Occupancy Evaluation of 22 Buildings.
5 McGraw-Hill Construction (2012). World Green Buildings Study. Accessed Nov. 29, 2012.
6 Booz Allen Hamilton and the U.S. Green Building Council (2015). 2015 Green Building Economic Impact Study.
8 National Trust for Historic Preservation (2011). The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse.
9 U.S. Geological Survey (2000). 2000 data.
10 McGraw Hill Construction (2010). Green Outlook 2011: Green Trends Driving Growth.
11 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Green Building, Green Homes, Conserving Water. Water Use and Energy.
12 Watson, Rob. Greenbiz Group (2011). Green Building and Market Impact Report.

USGBC Articles can be accessed in the USGBC app for iOS or Android on your iPhone, iPad or Android device.
iOS App on App StoreAndroid app on Google Play

Total 12 commentsLeave a comment

Project Manager, Colliers International
Hi Kristen!!! Thanks for the reply. Just want to understand that this 14% of water consumption is on the higher side or as per the requirement of USGBC, as i have read somewhere that in the United States alone, buildings account for: • 72% of electricity consumption, • 39% of energy use, • 38% of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, • 40% of raw materials use, • 30% of waste output (136 million tons annually), and • 14% of potable water consumption. Just wanted to understand these figures whether they are on higher side and can be lowered down following USGBC norms. Many Thanks :-)
LEED Specialist, U.S. Green Building Council
Hi Pankaj, we appreciate your interest in water conservation. The article notes that in the US, buildings account for water use and that green buildings attempt to save 15% of that, so we anticipate that would reduce to 11.9% if all buildings were green and nothing else changed. Of course, other things do change. Agriculture and industrial processes are discovering the value of using less water, so it's not possible to predict what the equation might be years from now.
Project Manager, Colliers International
Hi Everyone!!! Please help me clarifying the statement "In the United States alone, buildings account for 14% of potable water consumption." Does this mean 14% of total potable water available globally? Please correct me if i am wrong. Many Thanks :-)
Green Building Specialist, LEED AP Homes, LEED for Homes Green Rater, U.S. Green Building Council
Hi Pankaj, thank you for your question. To clarify this statement, water use in buildings in the U.S. contributes to 14% of the total potable water consumption in the United States. I hope this helps!
Hi, Instead of square feet, what is the specific number of the LEED certified Buildings? And the number of registered buildings? Thanks!
LEED Specialist, U.S. Green Building Council
The current values for LEED certified and registered buildings worldwide changes daily. As of June 8th we have approximately 115,500 registered and 54,000 certified projects world wide. This data includes all rating systems (Canada, India, Homes, ND, Volume etc.) For a detailed breakdown of data by country or type of rating system you can always check out Keep in mind that data isn't aggregated daily through GBIG and may be slightly behind the values I offered.
Mark N Tompkins is CEO and founder of Mark Tompkins Montrose Capital, Mark Tompkins Montrose Capital
Very useful resources. Thank you!
Thanks for resources!
What % of the total US built environment is LEED certified?
LEED Specialist, U.S. Green Building Council
Hi, Patrick. That statistic is hard to pin down, as the USGBC doesn't track the overall inventory of buildings in the US. For related data, consult the "Market Briefs" on our website (link: and the USGBC’s Green Building Economic Impact Report (link:
hi.. I want to know, if possible, the number of buildings / projects that receive LEED certificate in World wide ,or register for it? not just statistic of 10 countries.../ the number of projects and their total areas?
Architect, OVACEN
Undoubtedly the benefits of LEED certification to the property market are clear and beneficial for investors. With a higher rate in sales of the traditional real estate properties. Excellent article. A greeting

Leave a comment

Not Sarah? Sign out

Sarah Stanley