Across the United States, the environmental integrity of a building’s design has become a top requirement. With an increased awareness of the effects of climate change the general public, numerous organizations, advocacy groups and public sector officials have pushed for higher standards on the environmental impact of a structure long after construction is completed.
The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Certification
The U.S. Green Business Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification, which is a label given to buildings that meet the highest level of environmentally friendly standards and practices, has grown to record numbers in recent years.
In 2014, LEED was mentioned in government contract specifications for 71% of projects that were valued at $50 million or more. These projects covered more than 657.9 million square feet of real estate space, a 13.2% increase in total square footage from 2013. The council expects 2015 to be another record-breaking year with 2,870 certified projects in the works representing nearly 646 million square feet of real estate as of August 2015.
Onvia’s Project Center showed state and local governments’ solicitations and awards with LEED references have steadily increased since 2013. LEED-certified projects in the construction and building industry increased 4% in 2014. From January through October of this year, LEED certified projects have increased 5% over the same period in 2014.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Certification
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the Energy Star program in 1992, and since then, the little blue sticker is on nearly every consumer product—from computers to appliances.
In state and local government procurement notices and awards, Onvia’s Project Center found the largest concentration of requirements for Energy Star certifications are in construction trades followed by food equipment and computer hardware. In the first 10 months of 2015 (January-October), Energy Star requirements in solicitations and awards surpassed 2014’s figures by 7% over the same period.
The Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes System
Founded in 2004, the Green Building Initiative (GBI) is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the adoption of building practices that result in resource efficient, healthier and environmentally sustainable buildings. They advance this mission through credible green building approaches for more sustainable communities.
Green Globes is one of the GBI’s building rating and certification tools. Green Globes for New Construction utilizes a recognized protocol, comprehensively assessing building environmental impacts on a 1,000-point scale in seven categories. Each building certification requires an on-site 3rd party assessment.
Onvia’s Project Center shows that Green Globes has been referenced most often in solicitations for architecture and engineering, construction services and building supplies contracts.
The EPA’s Watersense Program
The EPA also launched the WaterSense program in 2006 as a partnership encouraging consumers to buy with water efficiencies in mind.
The EPA set up the program in light of a 2014 Government Accountability Office report: 40 out of 50 water managers expected to face water shortages somewhere within their state under average conditions in the next decade. The agency estimates the program has helped consumers save roughly 1.1 trillion gallons of water and more than $21.7 billion in water and energy bills.
WaterSense-compliant products and services have grown steadily in the public sector since 2013, according to Onvia’s Project Center. The number of solicitations and awards this year through October have already outpaced 2014’s totals during the same period.