Green Buildings Reduce Carbon Emissions

The operation of buildings in the U.S. accounts for 43 percent of all U.S. carbon emissions, and 76 percent of U.S. electricity use. Every year five billion square feet are built in the U.S., five billion feet are renovated, and 1.75 billion square feet of buildings are demolished. Energy conservation and efficiency improvements in the building sector have the “greatest potential for an effective near-term mitigation wedge for climate change,” according to a study cited by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The American Institute of Architect’s Committee on the Environment (AIACE) released its 2009 list of top ten new buildings with outstanding environmentally responsible architecture and design. Three California buildings made the list: Chartwell School in Seaside, Gish Apartments in San Jose, and Portola Valley Town Center in Portola Valley.

Chartwell School is a Kindergarten through 12th grade school whose 21,000 square foot building achieved LEED-platinum rating. Completed in 2006, the school features a rain catcher system and a system to capture the condescension in the air from the area’s abundance of fog.

“The idea behind green building is integrative design,” said Douglas Atkins, executive director of Chartwell. The school was built on a site that would provide plenty of natural lighting and incorporated walls of windows in the classrooms. The school does not have to use artificial lighting during the day because of the school’s design. The school’s need for electricity dropped 50 percent as a result of using natural lighting.

The 35-unit Gish Apartments are a mixed-use site with a ground floor convenience story and hair styling salon. A rooftop solar system provides energy for the common use area. The apartment building is the only affordable housing in the U.S. to achieve LEED for Homes and LEED NC Gold certification.

The Portola Valley Town Center replaced and relocated the town’s library, community hall, and town hall because they were situation on the San Andreas Fault. The remnants from the site’s former buildings were recycled into the Center’s construction. Using salvaged wood reduced the Center’s construction carbon emissions by 32 percent. A solar power system provides 40 percent of the Center’s energy use.

California is the first to adopt statewide green construction code

It is not by chance that three of the buildings on AIACE’s list are located in California. In 2008, California became the first state to adopt a statewide code for green construction. The California Building Standards Commission voted 10 to 0 in favor of the code. 

The code will take place in three stages. Starting July 1, 2009, the California Energy Commission’s Residential Energy Efficiency Standard will become twenty percent more stringent, which will make it fifty percent stricter than the International Energy Efficiency Code. In January 2001, rules for moisture control, indoor air quality, and waste recycling will become stricter. In July 2001, a rule mandating a 20 percent reduction in potable water use by buildings will take effect.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “By adopting this first-in-the-nation statewide green building code, California is again leading the way to fight climate change and protect the environment.”


Fi T.
Fi T.3 years ago

This is a mission of all

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

Rob Van Zuilen
Rob Van Zuilen7 years ago

There are more intelligent solutions in the area of zeropoint energy. Cars running on water are made since 1930.
We have better technologies than the "green"ones today
see and

Andrew K.

A coating of Starlite on all walls and ceilings from Starlite Technologies would cut heat loss drastically, and it is part of my Near-Zero CO2 plan which can be seen at:
All buildings can be Near-Zero CO2 emitters with this invention.

GinaMarie Cheeseman
Past Member 7 years ago

I am a member of the Green Party and I agree with you, Simon, that they have comprehensive policies. However, they are not a viable party yet on the national level. You have to HOUND those already in power to enact the right laws.

Simon Wood
Simon Wood7 years ago

We can reduce carbon emissions from buildings by supporting the political parties that have comprehensive policies in that area: the Greens Parties and socialist parties. Also, while other parties are in government, we can make them adopt greener policies by building he green movement, and making it active enough to pressure our governments.

Elainna Crowell
Elainna Crowell7 years ago

I'm very proud that I live next to British Columbia's first platinum Leed residential/commercial complex.
I would love to buy one of the town houses or condos there.