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Green buildings deliver many climate benefits, study shows
UC Berkeley study quantifies real-world performance of green building water, waste and transportation impacts
SACRAMENTO - A new study finds that certified commercial green buildings throughout California use less water, produce less waste and require fewer car trips than traditional commercial buildings. This demonstrates that green buildings have an even smaller carbon footprint than when just considering their reduced energy consumption.
The study evaluated the performance of more than 100 commercial buildings throughout California certified as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) under the 2009 Existing Building Operations and Maintenance (EBOM) rating system. While typical studies of LEED buildings focus on reduced energy consumption only, this one examined several other climate-related impacts.
On average, the certified green commercial buildings cut greenhouse gas emissions from water consumption by 50 percent, reduced solid waste management-related GHG emissions by 48 percent and lowered transportation-related GHG emissions by 5 percent, when compared to their traditional California counterparts.
These reductions were achieved through a variety of strategies, from water-efficient landscaping to recycling programs to commuter benefit programs.
“A notable finding from this work is that by far the largest source of building-related GHG emissions was from the transportation sector,” said Dr. William Eisenstein, executive director of the Center for Resource Efficient Communities at UC Berkeley, and lead researcher on the study. “This suggests that programs like telecommuting and commuter benefit programs, when combined with smart location siting decisions driven by SB 375, can bring substantial GHG reductions.”
The Center for Resource Efficient Communities is a research center focusing on urban sustainability, climate change, water efficiency and land use. The study, “Quantifying the Comprehensive Greenhouse Gas Co-Benefits of Green Buildings,” was funded by the Air Resources Board.
ARB is hosting a research seminar and webcast open to the public at 1:30 p.m. December 17. For more information, click here. The webinar will be archived on ARB’s website.
ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.