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The built environment has a profound impact on our natural environment, economy, health, and productivity.

In the United States alone, buildings on average account for:

  • 72% of electricity consumption
  • 39% of energy use
  • 38% of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions
  • 40% of raw materials use
  • 30% of waste output (136 million tons annually)
  • 14% of potable water consumption

Green building is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction. This practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort. Green building is also known as a sustainable or high performance building.

Smart growth is development that serves the economy, the community, and the environment by supporting healthy communities while creating economic development and jobs. Sustainability, or sustainable development, is the ability to achieve continuing economic prosperity while protecting the natural systems of the planet and providing a high quality of life for its people.

Green building fits nicely with these concepts, as it promotes building practices that conserve energy and water resources,preserve open spaces through brownfield development, and are accessible to public transportation.

The successful adoption of green building strategies can maximize both the economic and environmental performance of buildings. Research continues to identify and clarify all of these benefits and costs of green building, and of how to achieve the greatest benefits at the lowest costs.

Green Building Practices Defined

Environmentally Responsible Building Practices

Creating and maintaining building structures using processes and materials that are environmentally-responsible, resource-efficient and occupant health-focused throughout the life of a building from site planning to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction. These practices are inclusive of whole building design as well as the individual components of building design, construction and operations.

LEED Building Practices

LEED buildings are third-party verified projects that are certified at a prescribed level of green building and performance/verification measures according to the United States Green Building Council’s published point system. New and existing buildings may be certified under various levels of qualitative rankings focused on the following areas: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Indoor Environmental Quality, Materials and Resources, Innovation and Design and Regional Priorities.

High Performance Building Practices

Developed by the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the USGBC, these practices aspire to enhanced performance in efficiency and sustainability for the Northeast Ohio region. Utilizing an integrated project delivery approach and best practices from the leading green building verifications such as LEED, Sustainable Sites Initiative, Energy Star and ASHRAE’s Building EQ programs, the focus of High Performance Building is on exceptional strategies that present measureable and continuous building performance improvement.

Living Building Practices

Living Buildings are third-party verified projects (certified by the Cascadia Region Green Building Council) that provide a framework of design, construction and the symbiotic relationship between people and all aspects of the built environment according to a metric designed by the International Living Building Institute. The Living Building metric, which is considered the most advanced measure of sustainable building, is comprised of seven performance areas: site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty.

Benefits of Green Building

Environmental benefits of green building:

  • Enhance and protect ecosystems and biodiversity
  • Improve air and water quality
  • Reduce solid waste
  • Conserve natural resources

Economic benefits of green building:

  • Reduce operating cost
  • Enhance asset value and profits
  • Improve employee productivity and satisfaction
  • Optimize life-cycle economic performance

Health and community benefits of green building:

  • Improve air, thermal, and acoustic environment
  • Enhance occupant comfort and health
  • Minimize strain on local infrastructure
  • Contribute to overall quality of life

Costs of Green Building

Good green buildings often cost only a few percentage points or no more to build than conventional designs. Integrated design processes that identify the most efficient, holistic approaches to building green can reduce these initial costs. For example, in some cases, when buildings are carefully designed to be energy efficient, HVAC equipment can be downsized for significant savings. There are also many green products and materials that cost the same or even less than conventional ones.

A green building may cost more up front, but can save money over the life of the building through lower operating costs. These savings may be more apparent through life-cycle assessment (LCA).

Cost savings are most likely to be fully realized when incorporated at the project’s conceptual design phase with the assistance of an integrated team of building professionals. The integrated systems approach aims to design the building as one system rather than a collection of potentially disconnected systems.


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Northeast Ohio Chapter of the USGBC
Tower City Center
Cleveland, OH 44114
info@neogreenbuilding.org director@neogreenbuilding.org