Green Buildings: Bottom-line Benefits
• NEW CONSTRUCTION: The amount of square footage LEED certified in 2010 was almost equal to the total amount of floor space certified in the previous ten years.
• EXISTING BUILDINGS: Though LEED “registrations” for new construction (LEED NC) were down dramatically, reflecting the huge slowdown in construction, certification of existing buildings (known as EBOM, which stands for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance) was up 80 percent from a year earlier.
According to Watson, LEED, which counts Watson among its founders, has had a positive impact on a variety of environmental issues:
• EMPLOYEES: Improved air quality and other indoor environmental improvements are currently benefitting more than a million and a half workers…the number of individuals now working in LEED buildings.
• GREENHOUSE GASES: Thanks to increased use of “renewables” and improved energy efficiencies, greenhouse gas emissions have been cut by eight million tons a year in LEED buildings.
• WATER: Water usage was reduced by more than 30 billion gallons through the end of last year in LEED buildings.
As part of the report, Watson made several future-focused predictions. They include:
• WATER SAVINGS: “By 2030, LEED will result in over 565 billion gallons of saved water, which represents a 14 percent reduction of annual non-residential water use.”
• ENERGY CONSERVATION: Carbon dioxide savings are expected to grow from the current eight million tons a year “to 64 million tons per year by 2020 and almost 170 million annually by 2030, which is about three percent of our current annual carbon dioxide footprint.”
• MATERIALS IMPACT: “The embodied energy in buildings that are renovated instead of demolished by 2030 is expected to save the oil equivalent of over 200 million barrels—as much energy as we important this year from Russia,” reports Watson.