Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Green buildings: a new frontier - by Grace Barrasso

This BC home was the first built in Canada to LEED platinum standards. It consumes 1/4 of the energy of a conventional house: photo courtesy of Greenbilt

In Canada [and the USA], buildings generate approximately 30 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. The Human Development Report notes that “with 0.5 percent of the world’s population, Canada accounts for 2.2% of global emissions - an average of 20.0 tonnes of CO2 per person. These emission levels are above those of high-income OECD countries. If all countries in the world were to emit CO2 at levels similar to Canada’s, [humanity] would exceed our sustainable carbon budget by approximately 799 percent”.
The potential for efficiency gains via Green Buildings is therefore huge as it reduces or eliminates the negative impact on both the environment and the occupants. Despite numerous nvironmental, economic and social benefits, green building represents only a small fraction of new construction.

Commercial (office buildings, shopping centers) and residential buildings (single family dwellings, apartment buildings) have significant environmental impacts. In the U.S., it is estimated that commercial and residential buildings consume approximately 65 percent of all electricity generated, 12 percent of fresh water supplies and 40 percent of all raw materials, as well as contributing about one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions.

See Grace Barrasso’s Blog for the full text, Wikipedia article on LEED, UNEP Year Book 2009.

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