Mapping green buildings across the US: Where are they appearing, and why?
One of the duties of my summer internship at USGBC includes tracking green building policies around the world. While this task is far too big to wrap up in mere months, I am beginning to recognize trends in different regions of the world. Two recent articles caught my attention, as they each offer interesting insights and provide supporting evidence for green building policy trends.
In the May 2013 report “Green Building Geography: Does Governmental Incentives or Economic Growth Stimulate Construction?,” Darren Prum and Tetsuo Kobayashi provide an analytical approach toward understanding the relationship between tax incentive programs and green building construction in six states. These financial incentive programs are designed to promote sustainability in the built environment, as well as encourage developers to consider efficient and green measures throughout the design and construction process. Taking a close look at the data set in this case study, the authors concluded that economic factors, rather than tax incentives, help stimulate green building growth across our nation.
Another article offering perspective on the implementation and effectiveness of green building policies was published in the Journal of Sustainable Real Estate, titled “Greening the Regulatory Landscape: The Spatial and Temporal Diffusion of Green Building Policies in U.S. Cities." Author Constantine E. Kontokosta studies the political, economic and climate factors associated with these policies with supporting data from the Green Building Regulation Database (GBRD).
According to this article, the majority of cities that adopt green building policies tend to be inhabited by a younger, more active and educated population. Although many incentives and tax abatements are put into place to encourage sustainable building and design projects, the majority found to be most effective are those that offset noncapital costs. Data from GBRD suggest that cities with green building policies and standards tend to already have some incentive for energy efficient buildings and/or renewable energy systems in place.
Other characteristics that determine whether green policies are implemented include the mayor’s political affiliation, the number of nonprofit environmental organizations present, as well as the city’s climate. In order for cities to widely adapt and diffuse green building policies at a faster rate, it is suggested that these cities begin to identify the magnitude of their carbon footprint, as well as develop sustainability plans that help promote green building policies and building measures.