It’s like a light went on in media outlets around the world — journalists and bloggers all over the place are reporting this not so surprising, but important news. Here’s the report that everyone’s talking about. I’m just waiting for some bombastic headline like: "Building Green Is a Quick Fix for Climate Change!!" It’s not all that exaggerated yet, but before diving into the merits and substance of the report, here are a few friends that have mentioned it:
- Green Buildings May be Cheapest Way to Slow Global Warming [sciam]
- Green Buildings Could Save More Energy Than is Consumed by ALL Cars [Ecogeek]
- Green Building Best Weapon Against Global Warming [Daily Green]
- Green Buildings for Cleaner Air [Popular Science]
Lots of smart, interesting perspective in the above links.
About the Report:
Here’s the juice. According to the new report issued by the trinational Commission for Environmental Cooperation ("CEC"), promoting the green design, construction, renovation and operation of buildings could cut North American greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling climate change more deeply, quickly, and cheaply than any other available measure. This isn’t just new construction either. Renovations. Operations. Lots of opportunity with old buildings. Lots of old buildings.
The report is entitled Green Building in North America: Opportunities and Challenges. It’s an 80-page report and the result of two years worth of study and research. Versions are available in English, Spanish, and French.
Speaking of the report, CEC Executive Director Adrián Vázquez said: "Improving our built environment is probably the single greatest opportunity to protect and enhance the natural environment. This report is a blueprint for dramatic environmental progress throughout North America—mostly using the tools and technology we have on hand today … green building represents some of the ripest ‘low-hanging fruit’ for achieving significant reductions in climate change emissions." He’s right, too. The tech to make a big difference already exists.
Drivers AND Barriers to Green Buildings:
The report cites economics, market forces, and governmental programs as key drivers of the green buildings movement right now. It also identifies some barriers to green buildings, such as: split incentives (developer versus owner, owner versus occupant, etc.), higher perceived or actual first costs, various risks and uncertainties, lack of experienced workforce, lack of coordination and consistency in governmental policies affecting green building, and the lack of research investments.
Strategies for the Future:
The report contains the following recommendations to make green building a standard practice in North America:
- Develop a common vision for green building in North America,
- Develop targets for enhancing building performance, and
- Develop strategies for helping to drive profound change in the North American building sector.
These strategies seem very general, but I believe they make sense and are supported by the information in the report.
Wrapping it Up:
Keep in mind that green building still only represents a fraction of what’s out there. As mentioned in the report and by some estimates, green building currently accounts for about two percent of the new non-residential building market and 0.3 percent of the residential market in the United States. So, we have room for improvement and major growth.
There’s a lot we can do to push the movement forward. We’re talking about a revolution. If you’re interesting in the green building revolution, download the report and give this a read.