Global buildings sector emissions increased 2% from 2017 to 2018, to reach a record high of 9.7 gigatons of emissions. The buildings and construction sector accounted for 36% of final energy use and 39% of energy and process-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2018, 11% of which resulted from manufacturing building materials and products such as steel, cement and glass.
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What makes a building green?
A ‘green’ building is a building that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment. Green buildings preserve precious natural resources and improve our quality of life.
Any building can be a green building, whether it’s a home, an office, a school, a hospital, a community center, or any other type of structure, provided it includes efficient use of energy and resources, consideration towards environment and sustainable materials mainly.
How can we make our buildings green?
There are a number of ways to make a building green. Some of which includes:
Taking an intelligent approach to energy
Minimizing energy use, making new and renovated buildings more cost effective and comfortable
Integrating renewable and low-carbon technologies to supply buildings’ energy needs
Safeguarding water resources
Exploring ways to improve drinking and waste water efficiency, harvesting water for safe indoor use in innovative ways, and generally minimizing water use in buildings
Considering the impact of buildings and their surroundings on stormwater and drainage infrastructure
Minimizing waste and maximizing reuse
Using fewer, more durable materials and generating less waste
Engaging building users in reuse and recycling
What are LEED certifications?
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) provides a framework for healthy, efficient, carbon and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership.
LEED certified buildings save money, improve efficiency, lower carbon emissions and create healthier places for people. They are a critical part of addressing climate change and meeting ESG goals, enhancing resilience, and supporting more equitable communities. Find out more about how to certify your buildings through LEED here.
Green buildings across the world
In the era of climate change, more and more emphasis is being placed on a building's "green" credentials, as environmental impact leads to decisions around design, construction and operations. We thought it would be interesting to share some examples of popular green buildings across the globe.
Pixel Building (Melbourne, Australia)
When it opened a decade ago, the Pixel Building was Australia's first carbon-neutral office building, generating all its own power and water on site. Among its energy-saving features are colorful, eye-catching panels that provide shade and maximize daylight as needed, supports that help process wastewater, a roof that captures rainwater, and a series of vertical wind turbines.
Shanghai Tower (Shanghai, China)
A transparent second skin wrapped around the building creates a buffer of captured air that serves as natural ventilation, reducing energy costs, and 270 wind turbines incorporated into the facade power its exterior lights. The tower uses significantly less power than other skyscrapers and has a platinum LEED certification.
Bullitt Center (Seattle, USA)
It's just six stories, but the Bullitt Center has made a big splash in American sustainability circles since it opened on Earth Day 2013. The building gets 100% of its energy on-site from renewable resources (it has a Living Building Certificate). The 575 solar panels create more energy than it consumes in a year.
Vancouver Convention Centre West (Vancouver, Canada)
Vancouver Convention Center West is the first building of its kind to get a double LEED platinum designation. For starters, four hives of European honey bees have been installed to pollinate the roof's plants and grasses, which in turn help reduce heat build-up in summer and retain it in winter. On top of that, the roof's sloping shape also assists with water drainage and the distribution of seeds. Moreover, some of the project is built over the water on piles (columns) that help support a marine ecosystem.