We Need a World of Green Buildings

By Emily Andrews, LEED AP O+M, GPRO O+M,
Executive Director, Missouri Gateway Green Building Council

“We need a world of green buildings.” I read this sentence in World Green Building Week materials a few years back and got really excited. Of course that’s what we need because our buildings – greener, healthier buildings – are solutions. Let me say that again, BUILDINGS ARE SOLUTIONS. Buildings play such an important role in our lives and in our efforts to address climate change. Buildings are solutions to the climate issues we face – at all stages of a building’s life cycle.

Did you know buildings and construction are responsible for 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions? 28% is related to operations – what it takes to heat, cool, and keep the lights and computers running. The other 11% is related to the embodied carbon emissions – the carbon released during construction and in the manufacturing of building materials. Some may read these statistics and feel overwhelmed. I look at them, and I know that our BUILDINGS ARE SOLUTIONS.

Lucky for us, there are a myriad of tools available to create a world of greener, better buildings. From the old standards of LEED and ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to some newer kids on the block like the WELL Building Standard, TRUE Zero Waste, the Living Building Challenge and Zero Energy Certification. Rest assured, there is something out there that is a match.

Maybe you still feel overwhelmed. But we can all take action in our homes, workplaces and schools for greener and healthier buildings. Homeowners can take advantage of energy efficiency incentives from our local energy utilities when it’s time to upgrade your heating and cooling system – coupled with provisions in the federal Inflation Reduction Act for solar and efficiency will make these choices even easier. Live in an apartment? Ask your landlord to take advantage of available incentives. Or take matters into your own hands and make sure all your light bulbs are LED. Have a green team at work that can advocate for energy efficiency? Or, if you’re connected to a school as a student, teacher, parent or alumni, help them get involved with our Green Schools Quest or Missouri Green Schools.

By investing in our buildings’ long term success and improved operations, we save money, create healthier spaces, and reduce the carbon footprint of our buildings. This commitment to greener, better buildings demonstrates exactly how BUILDINGS ARE SOLUTIONS. Help us create a “world of green buildings.”