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New Generation of Green Building Leaders
By: Joseph Small  -  8/1/2010

WASHINGTON – Local volunteers of the Sierra Club and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) will be conducting public tours of green buildings across the country to highlight the local economic and environmental benefits of energy-efficient, high-performance green buildings.

The tours are part of the national “Green Buildings for Cool Cities,” a partnership between the Sierra Club and USGBC. The project is aimed at helping cities nationwide make green buildings and communities a key component of their economic and environmental recovery efforts. The buildings on the tours include both LEED-certified projects and those pursuing certification. Venues range from homes, banks and schools, to commercial offices, municipal buildings and neighborhoods and will take place throughout Memphis, TN; Charlotte, NC; Fort Collins, CO; San Jose, CA; Reno, NV; Denver, CO; Greater Milwaukee, WI; and Augusta, Maine.
“Touring a high-performing green building is an opportunity to experience firsthand its benefits—from energy, water and money savings, to the cleaner air and abundant daylight that makes them healthier places to live, work and learn,” says Roger Platt, USGBC’s senior vice president for global policy and law.

“Buildings contribute nearly 40 percent of global warming emissions and consume over 70 percent of electricity used in the U.S., so they present a tremendous opportunity as we look for ways to reduce energy costs, greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution—not to mention create jobs in the emerging clean energy economy,” says Glen Brand, director of the Sierra Club’s national Cool Cities program. 

Green buildings can reduce energy consumption by 26 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 33 percent, compared to new structures built to conventional construction methods. Investments in green buildings on average result in 6.6 percent improvement on return on investment, 8 percent reduction in operating costs, and a 7.5 percent increase in building value. Improving the energy performance in existing buildings can reduce energy use by as much as 30 percent or 40 percent, with the ability to earn back those investments through lower utility bills over time.

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