As we celebrate World Green Building Week, we challenge you: Make your next project a "green building hero" by pushing it toward zero carbon.
Earlier this year, USGBC joined with the World Green Building Council and other green building councils around the globe to call for all buildings to be net zero by 2050. This goal follows from projections that, to keep global warming to less than 2 degrees (in line with the Paris Agreement), we need to decrease the average energy intensity of the global building stock by 80 percent by 2050 through low- and zero-carbon strategies.
How will we reach this critical milestone? The only way we can—start with the building, community or city you are in. Measure your current carbon emissions, see how close you are to net zero and select the best strategy to lower your impact.
Connect and act
To get to net zero carbon, we must start by knowing where we are. When we developed the Arc platform, we saw the opportunity to connect people with their buildings, connect people with other people and make those connections meaningful by helping teams collaborate to achieve continuous improvement.
Within a year of its launch, there are close to a billion square feet of space participating in Arc. The platform is helping to connect those project teams with actions to reduce their impact on the climate, via integrated carbon analytics and benchmarking across a portfolio or across the globe. Arc’s global scores for energy and transportation are already providing users with carbon outcomes: A perfect Arc score aligns with net zero carbon.
You’re already on your way
Today, net zero carbon is possible for many buildings, a result of the efforts of our green building community, made up of people like you, on thousands of LEED projects.
In fact, two-thirds of LEED credits support the goal of reducing buildings’ contribution to climate change. Each project that pushes to try a new strategy and to achieve the highest score has created this new paradigm. And in the U.S., more than half of buildings that have been recognized as net zero are also LEED-certified.
Your work has also created a virtual treasure trove of knowledge on how to design, build and operate net zero buildings, through over 50 courses on net zero and carbon reduction strategies on our Education @USGBC platform, and dozens of sessions planned for Greenbuild 2017, along with the annual Net Zero Zone showcasing a zero energy microgrid on the Expo Hall floor.
Measuring progress toward net zero carbon
Your next project or existing building is an opportunity to create a new hero. Know your building’s impact, and use as many carbon impact-reducing and regenerative strategies as you can.
Here are a few examples of how your green building can move toward net zero and earn LEED credits:
- Green infrastructure: Maximize green infrastructure and site vegetation to absorb carbon and reduce heat retention.
- Water: Minimize indoor and outdoor potable water consumption.
- Energy: Optimize energy efficiency and peak energy demand, which tends to be dirtiest; use low-carbon technologies such as geothermal; generate on-site solar or wind, if possible; use demand response and smart technologies to reduce grid impact.
- Waste: Minimize construction and operation waste for disposal; reduce creation of other materials requiring transport (such as for recycling).
- Transportation: Site your project near public transit, or advocate for transit additions; make it easy to use mass transit through such tactics as shuttles or attractive walkways; promote alternative transportation with bike racks and showers.
Soon, you will be able to know with certainty when you achieve net zero carbon. As a partner in the Advancing Net Zero program, USGBC is developing a verification for projects that achieve net zero carbon emissions in Arc for energy and transportation.
As the call for net zero green buildings gets louder, we are excited to see what our amazing green building movement can do. We are just getting started.