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How Can I Determine If a Building Is Green?

Typically, buildings are designed to meet building code requirements, whereas green building design challenges designers to go beyond the codes to improve overall building performance and minimize life-cycle environmental impact and cost. But how does one determine if a building is green? There are several good tools that can assist in analyzing energy use and savings in a building. A good place to start is with the National Institute of Building Sciences' Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG). The WBDG is the only Web-based portal providing government and industry practitioners with one-stop access to up-to-date information on a wide range of building-related guidance, criteria, and technology from a whole-buildings perspective.

Another great resource is Energy Star®, a program offered jointly by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Energy Star® provides the public and private sector alike with the means to save money and protect the environment through energy-efficient products and practices. Among other things, the DOE and EPA rate the energy efficiency of buildings, and grant the Energy Star® label to buildings that achieve significant annual energy savings. Energy Star® also offers a free Web-based service called Target Finder, which allows architects and designers of new buildings (as well as those under major retrofit) to establish an energy budget and performance target and provides many other online resources that allow you to plan, track, and manage energy reduction goals in the built environment.

Private green building rating systems are another important tool in building green because they help to transform this design goal into specific performance objectives and provide a framework to assess the overall design. In order to increase the architect's ability to advocate for green buildings, in December 2005, the AIA Board of Directors passed a Sustainable Rating Systems Position Statement. The position establishes general support for green building rating systems and identifies criteria that the Institute deems important for inclusion in any green rating program. It is important to note that the AIA position does not endorse any specific green building rating system; rather, it establishes specific criteria that architects deem important for inclusion in any green rating system.

To help you decide what rating system is best for your community, this CD allows you to link directly to the Web sites of two publishers of green building rating systems: the United States Green Building Council, publishers of the LEED rating system, and the Green Building Initiative, the parent organization for the US version of Green Globes.




NEXT: Steps You Can Take to "Go Green"



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