Green Buildings Combat Climate Change, Encourage Innovation
Building only green, high performance, intelligent buildings is an immediate and measurable way to mitigate climate change, according to Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chair of the U.S. Green Building Council, a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of representatives from across the building industry.
Speaking today at the third International Conference on Intelligent Green and Energy Efficient Building and New Technologies Conference in Beijing, Fedrizzi called on building industry leaders in China to "build only green buildings." "This is not a 'nice to do,' it's an absolute must," Fedrizzi said, citing a litany of negative impacts that climate change is already having on the earth. "But by using and pioneering smart, green strategies for growth, China will be able to fuel its exponential rise far into the future and set an example for the world."
Fedrizzi noted five key reasons for building green. The first is the positive impact of green buildings on the world's energy and carbon problems. "Energy efficiency is less expensive than building new power plants," he said, pointing to the fact that green buildings save, on average, 30% more energy than conventional buildings. He applauded China's aggressive efforts to balance its economic development targets with increasing efforts to diversify its energy sources and increase energy efficiency.
Another important reason to build only green buildings is because of the measurable impacts they have on improving human health and productivity. "I'm especially passionate about green schools," said Fedrizzi. Children in green schools have higher test scores and lower absentee rates, because the buildings are full of natural daylight and cleaner, healthier air.
"And these assets apply to all building types, and when we spend on average, 90% of our days indoors, shouldn't we spend them in green buildings?" he said.
Another reason to build only green buildings is their ability to foster innovation, the cornerstone of a growth economy. But he noted that the bigger challenge is transferring knowledge and technology into the global supply chain and across the global building industry.
One pathway to that is to create Green Building Councils in countries around the globe, and encourage the use of a common rating system, such as USGBC's LEED rating system, as a roadmap that ensures buildings are built as designed and that they perform as expected.
Fedrizzi applauded the work of several individuals and organizations who are helping drive green building in China, among them China's Minister of Constructing Qiu Baoxing, who is presiding over one of the largest rebuilding efforts in the history of the world, and doing so with a strong vision for a green future. Fedrizzi also noted the efforts of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, who has stated its intent to green the Olympic Village as a showcase for green building practices.
In closing, Fedrizzi challenged the audience to "leave with the commitment to spread the word that "green buildings matter, because they have an immediate and measurable impact on saving energy, limiting the natural resources we use, and reducing the carbon emissions that cause climate change."
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