Green Buildings Are Better!

By Emily Andrews,
Executive Director of the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter

Green buildings are better for people, better for the environment, and better for the bottom line. They steward natural resources and lower our environmental impacts. And they are healthier places for building occupants, especially important because Americans spend 90% of our time indoors. We live, work, learn, and play better in green and healthy spaces!

Cleaner Indoor Air at Home Reduces Asthma Symptoms in Children
According to the American Lung Association, nine million children in the U.S. under the age of 18 have been diagnosed with asthma. Healthier indoor environmental quality can help reduce asthma symptoms.

In Seattle, 60 “Breathe Easy Homes” were built to decrease asthma symptoms for the children living there. And it worked! Children with asthma had more symptom-free days in the Breathe Easy Homes than in their previous homes (source: http://bit.ly/1XKFaRs).
Many of the strategies used in these homes can be implemented in your own living space for healthier indoor air: using low volatile organic compound (VOC) paint, green cleaning products, non-chemical methods of pest control, walk-off doormats, and high-grade air filters.

Green Buildings Are Better for Business and Better for Employees
According to the 2015 Green Building Economic Impact Study prepared for USGBC by Booz Allen Hamilton, green buildings in the U.S. have the potential to save $4.8 billion dollars on energy, water, trash disposal, and building maintenance between 2015 and 2018. Here are some real life examples.

By 2009, PNC Bank had built 53 LEED certified bank branches. In a post occupancy evaluation of their LEED certified bank branches, they learned that green branches saw energy savings of more than 34% and water savings of 29% compared to legacy branches. Additionally, Green Branch occupants were more satisfied with office layout, lighting, air quality, temperature, and acoustics than legacy branch occupants. (Source: Greening Our Built World: Costs, Benefits, and Strategies by Greg Kats)

Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 moved into their LEED Platinum building in late 2011. Their utility costs have been consistently lower than those of the two buildings they previously occupied, even though the new building is much larger.

Alberici achieved the first LEED Platinum certification in St. Louis for their building in 2005. After ten years, it still stands as a shining example of a healthy, green building. An employee shared: “There is always air movement and light in this building – especially where I am seated. I love the open feeling. If I am having a bad day, I look up or around and see the beauty in the sky and it changes my focus.”

We Strive to Make Every Building a Green Building
15 years ago, 15 committed volunteers came together to form one of the first six USGBC Chapters in the country – because they believed that green buildings are better. At that time, you could count the number of LEED buildings on your fingers. Your USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter has been educating and advocating on behalf of green building ever since then.

But our work is far from over. Our goal is that every building is a green building within this generation. This is only possible with widespread community support. Visit www.greenbuildingsarebetter and be a part of our work to transform the built environment!