Green Buildings


Buildings & Green House Gas Emissions

Greenhouse gas emissions from buildings are substantial. New buildings can be constructed using passive solar building design, low- or zero-energy building techniques, using renewable heat sources. Existing buildings can be made more efficient through the use of insulation, high-efficiency appliances (particularly hot water heaters and furnaces), double- or triple-glazed windows, external window shades, and building orientation and siting. Renewable heat sources such as shallow geothermal and passive solar energy reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted.

Buildings & Energy Efficiency

In addition to designing buildings which are more energy efficient to heat, it is possible to design buildings that are more energy efficient to cool by using lighter-colored, more reflective materials in the development of urban areas (e.g. by painting roofs white) and planting trees. This saves energy because it cools buildings and reduces the urban heat island effect thus reducing the use of air conditioning. While a number of “green building” rating systems have been developed, the most well-known is the LEED system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built, and operated.

Case Study: The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) office in Santa Monica, California – One of the greenest office buildings in America


LEED is a third party certification program and standard for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2000, LEED serves as a tool for buildings of all types and sizes. LEED certification offers third party validation of a project’s green features and verifies that the building is operating as designed.



Green Globes is a third party certification program and standard for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.  It is a web-based program for green building guidance and certification that includes an onsite assessment by a third party.

Green Globes


CalGreen is a building code that requires, at a minimum, that new buildings and renovations in California meet certain sustainability and ecological standards.



Build It Green is a membership-supported Bay Area nonprofit established in 2005. This organization works with building and real estate professionals, local and state governments, and homeowners to increase awareness and adoption of green building practices. Their mission is to promote healthy, energy- and resource-efficient building practices in California through outreach and education.

Build It Green