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GBI press room: UN Climate Change Report Strengthens Case for Green Building

November 5, 2014

UN Climate Change Report Strengthens Case for Green Building

The just-released Fifth Assessment Report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes it clear that urgent actions are needed to slow the pace of global warming.

Jerry Yudelson, president of the Green Building Initiative says, “We know that buildings are responsible for more than 40% of US carbon emissions and more than 30% of total global emissions. Promoting green building and sustainable operations are essential steps in reducing and eventually eliminating carbon emissions that contribute directly to global climate change.”

The IPCC Report maintains that global warming is real and pervasive and that the most likely cause is the unprecedented increase in carbon dioxide concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere, resulting directly from human activity. It further declares that action is urgently needed to reduce the rate of carbon emissions, from both the advanced economies and the developing world, to hold global temperature increases to less than 2 degrees Centigrade (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). “Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reduction in greenhouse gas emissions which, together with adaptation, can limit climate change risks,” states the Report.

“In the US, the number one action we can take, that is both cost-effective and readily available, is to reduce the energy use in buildings through green building measures,” said Yudelson. “Many studies over the past 10 years have documented that receiving a green building assessment and certification can reduce energy use by 25% or more in newly constructed buildings and 16% or more in existing (older) building operations.”

Created in 2004, the Green Globes assessment and certification process puts 44% of total points in new construction rating into reducing energy use and controlling global warming emissions from refrigerants, and for existing buildings nearly 40%. “This makes it the strongest green building rating system for controlling carbon dioxide and refrigerant emissions directly linked to climate change," said Yudelson.

The Green Building Initiative is now updating both its new construction and existing building Green Globes rating systems. The new construction tool is following a national public consensus process approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). “We expect our updated ANSI standard for newly constructed green buildings, due out in late 2015, to provide an even clearer and more incisive approach to reducing energy use, promoting renewable energy and reducing emissions," said Yudelson.

“We all urgently need to work together to combat climate change. The focus for green building design, construction and operations must be on energy and water use reductions and associated global warming emissions. GBI and Green Globes plan to do their part in tackling the defining political, ethical and practical issue of our times," said Yudelson.