Building a Green Future – Green Buildings
Green Buildings, Finding ways to stimulate demand for new, more environmentally friendly buildings, power facilities and factories will deliver significant environmental benefits. At the same time, investing in new public infrastructure will ease pollution-causing traffic congestion and ensure safe and healthy supplies of drinking water for decades to come. You can’t wish for a green future – you have to build it. go for Green Buildings
“Across the country, contractors are finding new work installing wind turbines, drilling for geothermal, ‘planting’ solar farms and connecting new sources of power to existing grids. These projects aren’t just a great source for renewable energy; they are a promising opportunity to renew our industry.” — Ted Aadland, AGC President
Investing in infrastructure for Green Buildings
not only improves our environment, it will provide a much needed boost to employment and the economy. Indeed, the economic benefits of this plan would go well beyond helping to address the immediate needs of the construction industry—which is facing near 25 percent unemployment and double-digit declines in construction activity—as demand for more efficient building systems, building materials, emissions reduction technologies and a host of related products and services would also soar.
Construction and renovation ultimately are the most immediate and effective ways to improve the built environment and increase the energy efficiency of our vertical and horizontal infrastructure by:
• Improving the environmental performance and energy efficiency of existing and new buildings and industrial facilities;
• Reducing transportation congestion and pollution through expansion and improvements to these vital infrastructure and the construction of mass transit options;
• Cleaning up and protecting our communities through renewed commitments to water treatment, updating failing water systems and the remediation of contaminated sites; and
• Increasing the availability and efficiency of energy production through upgrades to existing power plants and the construction of new and diverse sources of energy that will also bring us to greater energy independence.
Our nation’s built environment sustains our quality of life and our economic productivity; our infrastructure and our lifestyles also directly impact the natural environment. Our buildings provide us shelter, vital services and comfort. Our roads, airports, ports and transit systems provide mobility and contribute to our economic prosperity. Our factories, power plants and power grids produce needed goods and power our lifestyles.
Inefficiencies and disrepair in these systems only exasperate our pollution concerns, as well as put our communities at risk. This is especially true with older structures and poorly performing public infrastructure. We cannot, and should not, stop providing for our communities; however, there are steps everyone can take, including the construction industry, to lessen the environmental impact of our built environment.
Residential and nonresidential buildings also use approximately 13 percent of all potable water and 40 percent of the non-food/fuel raw materials use. One way to make significant changes in the buildings of today and the future is to incorporate green building practices.
Green buildings often conserve raw materials, incorporate green products and reduce or recycle waste; they are designed to reduce stormwater runoff, use less energy and water, and use renewable energy sources. By one estimate, the landscape of our buildings will be altered 75 percent by the year 2035 through the typical pace of change: from new development, complete demolition and redevelopment to the major renovation of existing buildings.v The amount of non-residential construction starts in the green market is expected to grow to 20-25 percent by 2013.vi An estimated 15 million new buildings are projected to be constructed by 2015 alone
There are hundreds of international, national, and local programs and initiatives that focus on energy efficiency, materials, building and product life-cycle assessments, greenhouse gas reporting for products and services and more. Policymakers and industry need to support new research to further improve the environmental performance of our buildings and building materials and products.
1) Provide Tax Incentives: Expand the Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction from $1.80 per square foot to $3.00 per square foot. Current law allows owners to deduct the cost of installing energy efficient systems, like new heating and cooling units, lighting or insulation, in commercial buildings.
2) Support Building STAR: AGC supports the Building STAR rebate proposal that includes 17 incentives for efficient building equipment, materials and services.
3) Modernize Government Buildings: The U.S. Government Accountability Office has reported that the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has $4 billion worth of unmet maintenance
and modernization needs in over 900 federal buildings.xiv Federal agencies, including GSA, already have adopted green guidelines and standards for new construction and major renovation.
4) Establish Local Incentives for Green Buildings: State and local governments can promote green building by providing incentives for public and private owners to pursue green building projects.
5) Preempt Clean Air Act for Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Efforts to build green could be halted and delayed by heavy-handed regulation of buildings under the Clean Air Act through stationary source permitting programs that were never intended to address GHG emissions.
6) Fund Green Building Research and Programs: Congress and government agencies should continue to support and participate in research and programs to support green and high performing buildings, such as the High-Performance Buildings Caucus of the U.S. Congress, the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) Whole Building Design Guidexvii and NIBS High Performance Building Council.
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