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It's Fashionable to Be Green

It's Fashionable to Be Green

Rick Fedrizzi, president, chief executive officer, and founding chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), gave an inspirational keynote address during the Carrier Corp. and HPAC Engineering-sponsored 10th Global Engineering Conference last month. He noted the steady progress in the number of buildings that are becoming Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design- (LEED-) registered or certified worldwide as well as the increasing number of USGBC corporate members and LEED-accredited professionals. Everything points toward progress as far as the USGBC is concerned.

That's the good news. The not-so-good news is that naysayers are starting to cry foul over the green initiative. In fact, a recent article in a popular consumer magazine called green the “new black,” reducing it to a mere trend.

Yes, it is fashionable to be green these days. But to imply that it is a trend is simplistic, silly, and stupid. As Fedrizzi said, green is a revolution not only because it's the right thing to do, but because it makes perfect business sense.

Two recent studies show that LEED-certified buildings, as well as buildings certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program, outperform conventionally built and operated buildings in energy savings, sale price, and rental and occupancy rates. A study by the New Buildings Institute determined that LEED-certified buildings reduce energy use by 25 to 30 percent compared with non-LEED-certified buildings. LEED Gold- and Platinum-certified buildings save up to 50 percent in energy use compared with conventional buildings. Energy savings under the Energy Star program are equally impressive. Energy Star-certified buildings use about 40-percent less energy and emit 35-percent less carbon compared with average buildings.

Saving energy is about as environmentally friendly as you can get, and saving energy means building owners and managers save money. As an added bonus, LEED-certified buildings are better environments for occupants.

I loved Fedrizzi's retort to the green-is-the-new-black silliness. Quoting New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, he said, “Green is the new red, white, and blue.” That is, the United States will generate the technology and jobs that will drive the green-buildings initiative. Green is our new industry.

I like the sound of that. I like it a lot.

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