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Home > Feature Articles > Sustainable Development Best Practices for Community Sustainability

Green Building Can Easily Save 30-50% in Building Energy Costs

CEC study says green design, construction, renovation and operation of buildings could cut North American greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling climate change more deeply, quickly and cheaply than any other available measure!

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It is common now for more advanced green buildings to routinely reduce energy usage by 30, 40, or even 50 percent over conventional buildings, with the most efficient buildings now performing more than 70 percent better than conventional properties, according to the CEC report.

The trinational Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) concludes that promoting the green design, construction, renovation and operation of buildings could cut North American greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling climate change more deeply, quickly and cheaply than any other available measure!

Despite proven environmental, economic and health benefits, however, green building today accounts for a only small fraction of new home and commercial building construction—just two percent of the new non-residential building market, less than half of one percent of the residential market in the United States and Canada, and less than that in Mexico.

The report, Green Building in North America: Opportunities and Challenges, is the result of a two-year study by the CEC Secretariat. It was prepared with advice from an international advisory group of prominent developers and architects, sustainability and energy experts, real estate appraisers and brokers, together with local and national government representatives.

The Solutions

Jonathan Westeinde, managing partner of The Windmill Development Group in Ottawa and the CEC’s advisory group chair, states “As a developer, I rely on the fact that green building is a proven concept—with construction costs and market benefits that are rapidly improving. This report shows what is needed to scale up and put green building at the heart of a healthy, energy-secure North America.”

Sustainable Communities with Long Term Advantages

The report highlights the importance of green building in urban development.

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, whose city hosted a CEC symposium on green building in May 2007, states, "Green building is a cornerstone for creating strong, sustainable communities. In Seattle, we are convinced that cities that make the commitment and investment in green development now will have a significant advantage in the long run."

Recommendations for Green Building Strategy

Among its recommendations, the report calls upon North American government, industry and nongovernmental leaders to:

  • Create national, multi-stakeholder task forces charged with achieving a vision for green building in North America
  • Support the creation of a North American set of principles and planning tools for green building
  • Set clear targets to achieve the most rapid possible adoption of green building in North America, including aggressive targets for carbon-neutral or net zero-energy buildings, together with performance monitoring to track progress towards these targets
  • Enhance ongoing or new support for green building, including efforts to promote private sector investment and proper valuation methods
  • Increase knowledge of green building through research and development, capacity building, and the use of labels and disclosures on green building performance



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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