A green building has characteristics that reduce its environmental impact during its life cycle—from construction all the way through to the end of the building’s useful life. These green building characteristics are measured against three criteria:
Various government and private, non-profit agencies recognize green construction efforts through certification programs. Two of the construction industry’s most sought-after certifications are Energy Star and LEED.
The ENERGY STAR program through the US Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Canada is an international partner in the U.S. ENERGY STAR program. The program is committed to protecting the environment by certifying and promoting the use of energy-efficient products. Customers using Energy Star products help reduce energy consumption, protect the environment and likely save money as a result.
LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. To receive LEED certification, building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. Strategies include choosing environmentally sensitive design, roofing, insulation, delivery methods and other criteria, which earn points toward certification. Detailed LEED program information can be found on the websites for the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC).
The US and Canada Green Building Councils cite these advantages for building green: