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Green building: Cheapest, quickest way to cut emissions

roof.jpgAccording to a new report from the group, if the construction industry cottoned on to green building and started using “currently available and emerging advanced energy-saving technologies”, it could result in over 1,700 fewer megatons of CO2 emissions by 2030. That’s a lot of megatons.

The study also found green building makes up “just two percent of the new non-residential building market, less than half of one percent of the residential market in the United States and Canada, and less than that in Mexico”.

The report (which you can find here, by the way) says the industry needs to do all this to get green construction to become the norm:

(1) Work together to develop a lasting and achievable vision for green building in North America. This vision will help drive targets and strategies for green building and could result in the creation of a common set of principles and planning tools for green building, with each country having region/ context-appropriate policies and programs to address differences in building codes, regulatory environments, climate, and economic and social conditions.

To work toward this vision, the recommendations call for the creation of national, multi-stakeholder task forces in each of the three countries, coordinated by the environment or other appropriate ministry of each country and linked internationally through a cooperative mechanism such as the CEC. These task forces would promote aggressive and consolidated approaches for accelerating the achievement of this vision at the North American level, with united and integrated participation of representatives of all components of the building sector and civil society.

(2) Set clearly defined targets with the goal of achieving the most rapid possible adoption of green building in North America, including setting aggressive, realistic targets for carbon-neutral or net zero-energy buildings. Modeling should be conducted and targets set for other environmental parameters such as water use, wastewater generation, land conversion, use of environmentally- preferable materials, embodied energy and waste loads, and to monitor performance for continual improvements.

(3) Implement a set of strategies for enhancing, accelerating and integrating ongoing or new efforts in support of green building. These strategies should include efforts to promote private sector financing and proper valuation methods, and to increase knowledge through research and development, capacity building, outreach, and the use of labels and disclosures on green building performance. These efforts are particularly important for Mexico, considering its urgent need for affordable housing and the need for widely recognized green building rating systems and a nationally-coordinated framework that will support and enhance existing Mexican policies and programs that favor green building.

North American governments at all levels should build on their progress to date and, as swiftly as possible, adopt comprehensive and ambitious policies requiring all government procurement in the building sector to achieve high levels of green building performance, with a firm commitment to continual improvement over time.

These efforts should also push for continual improvement in policies, regulations, and codes and develop and enforce effective mechanisms to monitor implementation. These include tax and other financial incentives, such as graduated utility rates that encourage conservation, non-tax incentives like expedited permitting, priority plan review, and density bonuses, among others. Over time, government should emphasize the appropriate use of mandates, in addition to incentives, with the view toward the advancement of green building performance targets. It is critical that all policies and programs related to green building be integrated with comprehensive urban development programs geared toward the development of sustainable communities.

Finally, the recommendations call for North American leaders to promote North American and global cooperation in green building in such areas as trade in materials, conducting joint or coordinated research programs, and to promote the sharing of data, information, and best practices.

1 Comment

  • Peter
    Posted March 17, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Are they mad?

    They should be sweating the big stuff. I believe that New York is considering a ban on cocktail olive sticks and Leonardo is on board.

    Meanwhile, back at home, how are we doing in the same area of priorities and deliverables, I wonder?

    Let’s just have a wee gander at the budget, now, shall we…

Comments are closed.

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