ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Standards Advance Expansion of Sustainable Building Practices

New York, Feb 09, 2006

The construction, operation, and maintenance of buildings place considerable strain on the environment. Enormous quantities of energy, water, and raw materials are used; substantial amounts of waste and pollution are produced. In the United States, buildings account for more than 36% of the nation’s total energy use and 136 million tons of waste annually. Green buildings, or sustainable buildings, and the standards that support them aim to reduce the negative impact on the environment by incorporating resource-efficient methods of construction, renovation, and maintenance.

The mission of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is to promote the design and construction of buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthy places to live and work. A member of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), USGBC has developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard — a voluntary, consensus-driven rating system established to encourage the global adoption of green building practices. The LEED rating system credits building projects for meeting specified performance criteria within specific environmental categories, including water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. Offering certification ratings ranging from “certified” (26 points) to “platinum” (52 points), the LEED system has been applied to a wide range of building types, including schools, hospitals, multi-unit residential buildings, and commercial offices. LEED certification is currently being sought by more than 2,000 building projects nationwide.

Seeking gold-level LEED certification, the Hearst Tower in New York City will be built with 20% less steel than the average skyscraper, and is designed to harvest rainwater. The water will be reused to irrigate the building’s plants, replace water lost by evaporation in the building’s air-conditioning system, and to power a three-story water fall designed to humidify and cool the lobby. A middle school in Lake Tahoe, California is currently working to add a network of solar panels, known as a photovoltaic demonstration system, that convert sunlight into electric power. A LEED registered hospital in New Jersey plans to use rooftop meadows to cool its rooms and recycled blue jeans to insulate its walls.

"As science, technology and best practices evolve, LEED will evolve with them — driven by the work of thousands of our members, volunteers and committees," said Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC president, CEO, and founding chair. "We'll always challenge ourselves and the building industry to go further in pursuit of our mission to transform the design and construction of buildings to be healthier, environmentally friendly and profitable."

Two standards currently under development by USGBC will promote the adoption of sustainable practices into the consumer markets. USGBC is developing a LEED rating system for homes for use by builders, homeowners, and local governments. Working to apply green building practices to entire communities, USGBC is also currently developing the first national standard for neighborhood design. Both standards are set for public release in 2006.

For more information about the USGBC and the LEED rating system, visit

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