In the eight years since the inception of the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™, the green building movement has grown exponentially, and by all accounts, is no longer considered a passing trend by the mainstream. Consider a few of the following statistics made available by the USGBC:
The value of green building construction is projected to increase to $60 billion by 2010 (Source: McGraw-Hill Construction Analytics, SmartMarket Trends Report 2008).
By 2009, 80 percent of corporate America is expected to be engaged in green initiatives at least 16 percent of the time, and 20 percent will be engaged in green 60 percent of the time (Source: McGraw-Hill Construction, Greening of Corporate America SmartMarket Report, 2007).
The green building products market is projected to be worth $30-$40 billion annually by 2010 (Source: Green Building Alliance).
Beyond what some critics might oversimplify as hype, what other factors are driving architecture, design and construction toward a more sustainable built environment? According to FMI's 2008 U.S. Construction Overview, at least three factors are expediting the growth of green building: 1. an unprecedented level of government initiatives in support of green building practices; 2. heightened residential demand for green construction; and 3. improvements in sustainable materials. Add to that the savings that commercial and residential structures can realize in energy costs-especially with oil prices skyrocketing-and it becomes clear why the LEED Rating System has become such a tremendous success.
Billed as a "voluntary standards and certification program that defines high-performance green buildings," LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development; water savings; energy efficiency; materials selection; and indoor environmental quality. Within these five areas, points are available, and the number of points a project earns determines the level of certification that will be awarded: Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum.
For the third year running, the editorial staff at Interiors & Sources has selected 10 recent examples of LEED projects that showcase not only the ability of green buildings to be efficient, healthy, regenerative places to live and work, but also that they can be beautiful places that we love to inhabit.
- Horizon Wind Energy's Corporate Headquarters, Houston, TX - LEED Silver