Buildings & Green House Gas Emissions
Greenhouse gas emissions from buildings are substantial. New buildings can be constructed using passive solar building design, low- or zero-energy building techniques, using renewable heat sources. Existing buildings can be made more efficient through the use of insulation, high-efficiency appliances (particularly hot water heaters and furnaces), double- or triple-glazed windows, external window shades, and building orientation and siting. Renewable heat sources such as shallow geothermal and passive solar energy reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted.
Buildings & Energy Efficiency
In addition to designing buildings which are more energy efficient to heat, it is possible to design buildings that are more energy efficient to cool by using lighter-colored, more reflective materials in the development of urban areas (e.g. by painting roofs white) and planting trees. This saves energy because it cools buildings and reduces the urban heat island effect thus reducing the use of air conditioning. While a number of “green building” rating systems have been developed, the most well-known is the LEED system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built, and operated.
Case Study: The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) office in Santa Monica, California - One of the greenest office buildings in America