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Issues > Green Building > Introduction
The construction, maintenance, and demolition of buildings is one
of the most resource-demanding industries in the United States.
Buildings account for 45% of worldwide energy use, 80% of potable
water use, and 50% of the timber harvest in North America.(1)
They also account for about 40% of municipal solid waste and 30%
of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming
and acid rain.(2)
Our demand on natural and finite resources such as energy, water,
and building materials can be reduced and our contribution to environmental
quality enhanced by incorporating green building principals into
the design, construction, and renovation of buildings.
Green buildings are designed and constructed to maximize whole
life-cycle performance, conserve resources, and enhance the comfort
of their occupants. This is achieved by the smart use of technology
such as fuel cells and solar heated water tanks, and by attention
to natural design elements such as maximizing natural light and
building orientation. The result is a highly efficient building
that saves money, is aesthetically pleasing, and contributes to
the comfort and productivity of its occupants.
Photo courtesy of Natural Resources Defense
community has been increasingly supportive of green building,
and more and more educators and practicing professionals are
recognizing its environmental and economic potential. Leaders
in this exciting new field, including builders, architects,
nonprofits, and states that encourage its practice, are being
recognized for their contribution to environmental quality
and occupant health and safety.
There are three principle methods that states can use to
promote green buildings. The first is to require that architects
learn about green building practices. In most states, the
legislation mandating continuing education for re-licensure
has been enacted and green building courses have been made
available. However, a stipulation requiring architects to
take at least one green building course per registration period
is still missing.
States can also use tax incentives to promote green buildings.
A green building tax credit can be awarded to taxpayers who construct
a building that meets certain requirements. The amount of tax credit
awarded for a green building is proportional to the size of the
building and the extent that the building is “green.”
Lastly, state law can require that newly-constructed state buildings
meet certain green building standards, making the state a leader
in environmentally-friendly, cost-saving design and construction.
This web site offers the tools necessary for you to introduce and
pass legislation to promote green building in your state. These
tools include three sample bills, talking points, press clips, a
fact pack, links, and other background information.
We may have other useful materials on this subject which are not
posted on our web site. Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call our office in Madison, Wisconsin, at (608) 252-9800.
If you’ve used this site and found it helpful
or, if you have suggestions about how it could be made more helpful,
please let us know. Feel free to use the sample bill text included
here in your state. If you do, please notify us.
(1) Personal correspondence with Rob Watson, Natural Resources Defense
Council. 24 March 2004.
(2) Roodman, David Malin and Nicholas Lenssen. “A Building Revolution:
How Ecology and Health Concerns Are Transforming Construction.”
Worldwatch Paper #124. Washington, D.C.: Worldwatch Institute, March
1995. 26 February 2004 <http://www.worldwatch.org/pubs/paper/124.html>.
|This page was last updated on September 14, 2004.