LEED and the Future of Green Building

Editor's Note: This article is a chapter excerpted from Vijaya Yellamraju's recently published book, "LEED-New Construction Project Management." 

The first decade of this century saw the resurgence of the green building movement and the emergence of rating systems, such as LEED, BREEAM, GreenStar, etc., across the world. Many national, state, and local governments have embraced green buildings and are providing several incentives for their widespread development. As a result, green buildings have gained acceptance among public agencies, private sector developers, and institutional owners.

The LEED rating system can be regarded as a game changer that has catapulted green to the spotlight. Over the last decade, LEED buildings have had a tremendous impact on reducing CO2 emissions, water consumption, and material use.
Vijaya Yellamraju book
In 2009 alone, annual CO2 savings from LEED buildings was estimated to be approximately 2.9 million tons from energy efficiency and renewables. Total water savings from LEED was estimated at 15 billion gallons, composed of 0.5 percent of annual nonresidential water use. Over 60 percent of construction and demolition waste was diverted from LEED projects, totaling 25 million tons to date and is expected to reach almost 800 million cumulative tons by 2030. The productivity benefits from LEED buildings to-date are estimated between $230 million to $450 million, according to the 2009 Green Building Market and Impact Report by GreenerBuildings.com Executive Editor Rob Watson.

The adoption of the LEED rating system may be regarded as an important first step in reducing the impact of buildings on global warming and climate change. However, there is still a long way to go before a momentous impact can be made.

This chapter presents various ideas, technologies, solutions, principles, and policies that are currently in the early stages of implementation and have a massive potential to take green building development to the next level. These ideas have been presented in the following broad categories:

•    Building design and construction
•    Building technologies
•    Building operations
•    Building finance
•    Building policies/regulation

Building Design and Construction

Performance-Based Design

In the coming years, the building design process will likely see a dramatic shift, wherein design decisions will be based on the anticipated performance of the building in terms of energy use, electricity  consumption, water use, and CO2 emissions.