Building Groups to Set Minimum Standard for Green Building

February 22, 2006

More new building projects will be declared "green" under a new minimum standard for green building, if the current efforts of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and two engineering societies are successful. USGBC is working with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) to develop the new standard, which aims to bring green building into the mainstream. The standard will apply to new commercial buildings and major renovation projects and will address water use efficiency, energy efficiency, and other factors. The three groups hope to complete the standard next year. See the USGBC press release.

ASHRAE may be helping to develop the minimum standard, but the society is shooting for a Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating from the USGBC as it prepares to renovate its Atlanta headquarters. ASHRAE has a strong commitment to sustainability, and recently published a "Sustainability Roadmap." The society has also joined with the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) to issue a joint statement on climate change, in which the two groups pledge their support for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. See the ASHRAE press releases on its new headquarters, the Sustainability Roadmap, and climate change, or go directly to the Sustainability Roadmap (PDF 373 KB) and the ASHRAE Engineering for Sustainability Web site. Download Adobe Reader.

Of course, there is another green building standard, at least in terms of energy efficiency: the Energy Star. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in early February that the Energy Star was awarded to 2,500 buildings last year, including 1,007 office buildings, 501 public schools, 834 grocery stores, and more than 200 hotels, hospitals, medical offices, and other buildings. Buildings that qualify for the Energy Star generally use up to 40 percent less energy than typical buildings. The Energy Star program is a joint effort of DOE and the EPA. See the EPA press release and the list of Energy Star buildings (PDF 2.4 MB).