By Ashley Phillips
Green Right Now
The U.S. Green Building Council, started 16 years ago, has 20,200 members and more than 50,000 LEED registered and certified projects around the world (80 percent are in the US).
And the group plans to get even bigger as it turns its attention to college campuses and enlists the help of students.
The USGBC is helping universities across the country to establish sustainability courses and USGBC student organizations, and of course, to build green. The Washington-based NGO estimates that there will be 4,300 LEED projects registered (underway) and certified (completed) on college campuses at the end of 2009.
The USGBC defines a green campus as “a higher education community that is improving energy efficiency, conserving resources, and enhancing environmental quality by educating for sustainability and creating healthy living and learning environments.”
The colleges and universities that do all that will serve as examples, not only for students, but for the larger community, pushing the green envelope and raising a generation for whom green is the norm.
“We are going to develop a generation of people that just are absolutely hardwired for … sustainable living,” said S. Richard Fedrizzi, CEO and Founding Chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council, in a recent speech in Chicago to national university leaders.
Universities and students will incubate new, more conserving and sustainable ways of engineering structures and living spaces, Fedrizzi said, which will lead to more accountability and transparency in building.
“If you can take a 99 cent box of crackers that tells you how much fat, how much protein, how much carbohydrates, how much sodium is in that box, and you as a consumer have the ability to chose it based on your health, based on your values, based on a number of things or not, this is a striking contrast when you realize we’ll spend 30 or 50 million dollars on a building and prior to LEED we never had that nutrition label,” said Fedrizzi.
LEED, he explained, will be a road map. Through LEED certification, people will have precise measures of a structure’s air quality, energy use, and the quality and origins of its materials.
Helping the environment is not the only advantage, there are economic, health, and community benefits as well, Fedrizzi said. According to the USGBC, green buildings can significantly reduce energy use, carbon emissions, water use, and solid waste, with an average savings of 35-70% in each of these areas per year.
Colleges, typically the nexus of any societal changes, will help perfect, promote and energize the green building movement.
“We (colleges and universities) may comprise only 3% of the carbon footprint, but we represent 100% of the student footprint,” said Michael M. Crow, President of Arizona State University.
- You can start a USGBC student group at your school. With tools and resources from the USGBC you can pave the way on your campus.
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