The Emergence of the LEED® Rating System – Part One

May 13, 2009  /  Lifestyle

In 2005, The Untied Nations’ World Summit released a pointed report detailing the global community’s view of sustainability.  Among several important points, three statements gave purpose and definition to the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) movement.1.    Sustainable global economic development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.2.    Sustainable economic development, social development and environmental protection are interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars.3.    Poverty eradication; changing unsustainable patterns of production and consumption; protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development are overarching objectives of and essential requirements of sustainable development.The UN report reinforced the USGBC’s mandate and lent credence to the emergence of the Council’s LEED® rating and certification programs.  The Office of the Federal Environmental Executive (OFEC), green building began to address economic and social concepts as well as environmental issues.The USGBC was founded in 1993.  Development of the LEED® rating system took 3 years and, despite its enthusiastic reception, the United States has not succeeded with the implementation of green building.•    39% of US energy consumption is related to buildings.•    70% of U.S. electrical consumption takes place in buildings.•    12.2% of American potable water is used in buildings.•    40% of the world’s raw materials are used in construction•    136 million tons of building and demolition waste is generated each year in the U.S.After considering the UN report, the OFEC set two critical criteria for sustainable construction:1.    To increase the efficiency with which buildings and their sites use energy, water and materials.2.    To reduce building impacts on human health and the environment through better site choices, design, construction, operation, maintenance and removal for the building’s complete life cycle.The new green building movement quickly evolved to include all new construction and began to fully consider each project’s merits based on social, economic and environmental impact.  Many communities had already adopted green movements but the UN and OFEC actions took hold and communities like Austin, Dallas and Houston were quick to amend their initial commitments.

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