Green buildings deliver climate friendly results. A green building can reduce greenhouse gasses, minimize waste, and decrease water usage. A number of studies have independently documented measurable results.
A California study by William Eisenstein, Ph.D. of UC Berkeley indicated that green buildings are associated with much lower GHG emissions as compared to traditional buildings. Certified commercial green buildings cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from water consumption an average 50 percent. Green buildings reduce solid waste management-related GHG emissions by 48 percent and lowered transportation-related GHG emissions by 5 percent.
In the video below Eisenstein explains his research findings.
A new Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) report shows how a greener built environment can reduce emissions, stimulate the economy, create jobs and even enable Canada to exceed its national emission reduction targets.
National emissions reduction targets
As reviewed by Canadian Architect, the report shows how green buildings can play a salient role in meeting the federal government’s 2030 target of a 30 percent GHG reductions below 2005 levels. Buildings accounts for approximately one-third of Canda’s annual emissions.
Citing research from WSP Group and Acton White Associates, the report says that by upgrading existing buildings with measures that improve energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions Canada can meet its national emission reduction targets.
The report finds that by supporting green building efforts, by 2030, Canada will reduce GHG emissions by 19.4 million CO2e tons (or 44 percent) from the 2005 baseline, with energy-related cost savings of $6.2 billion and direct and indirect GDP impacts of $32.5 billion.
To help advance the widespread use of green building design the report suggests that governments should offer incentives for energy efficiency improvements. These improvements include but are not limited to recommissioning, deep retrofits, renewable onsite energy systems, and switching fuel sources to renewables in existing buildings commercial, institutional and high-rise residential buildings over 25,000 sq.ft. Other helpful initiatives suggested by the report include building energy benchmarking, reporting and disclosure.
The report also suggests supporting a national net zero building initiative to foster innovation and create a Canadian standard. Another. If all new buildings above 25,000 sq. ft. were net zero by 2030 we could avert 7.5 megatonnes of GHG emissions. This represents a 17 percent reduction in the sector compared to 2005 levels.
On its own, the government can reduce the GHG emissions in its own buildings by adopting advanced high-performance green building measures for federal building renovations, new construction, and leased properties.
Implementing energy efficiency programs for federally-owned buildings over 25,000 sq.ft, which account for three to five per cent of building sector emissions, will result in 480,000 tons of GHG emissions reductions and cost savings of approximately $170 million, annually.
Investing in green building also serves as an economic stimulus and creates jobs. The report indicates that the adoption of green building upgrades would benefit 16 sectors. The report also claims that ramping-up green building would create jobs in the manufacturing, professional services, trade, real estate, construction, and telecommunications sectors.
The total number of jobs created in Canada would be around 260,741 equivalent full-time jobs annually. These jobs would provide a labor income $26.8 billion (in current dollars) by 2030. Construction alone would generate $5.2 billion in taxes accruing to the federal, provincial and municipal governments by 2030.
In the US, green building employed 2.3 million Americans in 2015 and it is outpacing overall construction growth. This is the finding in the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) study from Booz Allen Hamilton (NYSE:BAH). As explained in a press release: “By 2018, the study finds, green construction will account for more than 3.3 million U.S. jobs–more than one-third of the entire U.S. construction sector–and generate $190.3 billion in labor earnings.”
We have not even scratched the surface on the number of people that will ultimately be employed by the green building sector. There will come a day when green buildings will be the rule.
The social cost of the GHG emissions avoided by green building in Canada would be almost a billion dollars ($960 million) by 2030. As Adam Bonislawski wrote in an April 2016 Blueprint article, that the benefits of green building are reminiscent of Brudtland’s three-legged stool. The title of the article says it all, “Green Buildings: Good for the Environment, Occupants, and the Bottom Line”