In the United States, buildings account for 72% of electricity consumption and 39% of all energy use. With the right type of planning however, 'green' commercial buildings can be very sustainable and can have a significant impact on improving air/water quality; enhancing and protecting ecosystems; as well as reducing waste. With the green building rating system LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), buildings can be certified as Green and cities can compete in the number of green buildings and the degree of their 'greenness'. Where are these certified green buildings? Read on to find out if your city ranks in the Top 10 List of Green Cities in the US...
LEED: The Green Building Certification System
Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2001, LEED certification is internationally recognized and accepts project registration from homeowners, architects, and construction managers. Some recognizable names in building innovation include The Getty Center, the Bronx Library, and the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas. In order to receive one of the five levels of LEED certification (Certified, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum), buildings need to show that they utilize greener practices in areas such as energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality and stewardship of resources. For example, in order to obtain its silver rating, the Getty Center has reduced water use by 33% as well as reduced energy use by 10% by establishing carpool programs for employees, recycling half the total waste, maximizing the use of natural light, maintaining green roofs, and using more drought tolerant plants. The Bronx Library similarly has achieved a silver rating through motion sensor lighting, advanced air-handling units, and locally bought sustainable building materials.
Top Greenest Cities in the US*
Although LEED buildings are found in most cities across the country, bigger cities tend to have more certified buildings than smaller and rural cities because of more resources and stronger demands.Â Cities with the most LEED certified buildings include the following:
1 - Chicago, IL -- 88
2 - Portland, OR -- 73
3 - Seattle, WA --Â 63
4 - Washington, D.C. -- 57Â Â
5 - Atlanta, GA -- 53Â
6 - San Francisco, CA -- 50Â
7 - New York City, NY-- 46Â
8 - Grand Rapids, MI -- 44Â
9 - Los Angeles, CA -- 40
10 - Boston, MA -- 38Â
To find a list of all the certified buildings in your area you can visit the US Green Buildingâ€™s website and look at their project list. Â
Schools and universities are also becoming more green by using recycling programs, low-energy and low-flow appliances, utilizing natural lighting and by using paint and carpet adhesives that don't emit toxic gases.Â Lists of green schools can be found on the U.S. Green Buildings Councilâ€™s Green School Buildings website.
Chipping in For A Greener Planet
From governmental agencies and businesses, to arts and entertainment, this diverse commitment to sustainable buildings is paving the way for not only a positive change in mentality but also for a better future.Â Everyone can do their part.Â
Check out Cal Recycle, Building Green Residential, and the U.S. Green Building Council for some great tips on how to green up your home. By using energy efficient appliances, choosing native landscaping, and reducing waste, we can all help green out our country, and the planet. Â
Â * Source: Cities ranked by number of LEED certifed buildings according to the US Green Building Council.