How Sustainable Building Policy is Evolving

26 April 2023AEC, Architecture, Architecture and Engineering, Construction, Sustainabilityefficiency, energy conservation, green construction, LEED, sustainable design, waste reduction



A formal movement around environmental concerns began taking shape in the 1990s. It was during that decade that the US Green Building Council (USGBC) was founded, the American Institute of Architects created its Committee on the Environment, and the EPA and US Department of Energy formed the Energy Star program. The LEED rating system was established in the late 1990s to give organizations guidelines around rewarding sustainable design and construction efforts.

The green movement has continued to grow, crossing generations, disciplines and borders around the world. More tools and solutions are being developed to achieve green standards and targets.

Photo of two men crouched down at the edge of a roof of solar panels, pale blue sky
Sustainable building LEED, solar, image: Shutterstock

The USGBC has recognized several of its members that have achieved sustainability milestones:

  • HOK served as architect and interior designer for the David H. Koch Center of NewYork-Presbyterian in Manhattan. The building was certified LEED Gold for its green roof, high-efficiency mechanical systems, and an exterior façade with triple-paned insulated glazing with an encapsulated wood screen to reduce solar glare and heat gain. If new medical equipment needs to be moved in, the building is designed so entire floors can be reconfigured with little impact on hospital operations.
  • Carrier, an HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), refrigeration and fire security equipment corporation, has adopted high-efficiency refrigerant products.
  • The City of Austin has become a LEED-certified city. Its efforts to achieve more sustainable, resilient and healthy communities include landscape development in parks and green spaces and mandated LEED Silver certification for all future buildings in the City. On its website, Austin Energy Green Building (AEGB) reports that, in 1991, it “developed the first rating system in the US for evaluating the sustainability of buildings, inspiring many cities to follow.” AEGB works with building professionals to encourage green projects that contribute positively to the city’s environmental goals.
photo of city buildings in background, spinning wind turbines and solar panels, foreground tan boulders and a field of green grass
Sustainable building, LEED, image: Shutterstock
  • Colgate-Palmolive built a manufacturing facility that was the world’s first project certified LEED Zero for carbon, energy, waste, and water. As of 2019, Colgate had 19 facilities around the world that achieved LEED certification. It has also made a commitment to convert to 100 percent recyclable packaging by 2025.
  • Denver’s “2022 Green Code” lists such construction factors as residential and commercial energy, site sustainability, water use efficiency, indoor environmental quality, materials and resources, construction, and plans for operation. Like those in other cities, the code expands beyond the operational basics of a building to include its construction. The code has been voluntary since 2019, but as of May 2023, contractors will be required to meet some of its provisions.
  • Turner Construction Company employs 1,500 LEED APs and Green Associates to help deliver green buildings. On its website, Turner lists 352 LEED certified building projects throughout the US, as well as in Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico, and India.
photo looking up the side of a ten-plus story apartment building showing windows alternating with a green plant facade
Sustainable building, image: Shutterstock

LEED-certified buildings – and green buildings in general – have proved to save money, improve efficiency, reduce waste, and create healthier places for people. The green movement continues to grow. By taking even small steps now, your company can contribute to the long-term impact of sustainability.

Download the eBook “Sustainable Impact of Lean Construction,” and learn how construction companies make economic sense out of sustainability.


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