50-Percent Increase in Green Building Since 2007

Nov. 13, 2009
Local policies to promote energy-efficient buildings continue to thrive despite prolonged economic downturn  

In the wake of an extended global economic slump, local communities are pushing ahead and expanding their green building programs. More than one in five U.S. cities with populations greater than 50,000 surveyed by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) report having a policy to promote green buildings, accounting for more than 53 million people. The AIA initially conducted this survey in 2007 for a Local Leaders in Sustainability report, which has just been updated. The new report, Green Building Policy in a Changing Economic Environment, is an inventory of policies and best practices intended to help policymakers advance a more sustainable legislative agenda for growth and development.

The report also contains detailed case studies of the green building programs in Los Angeles; Philadelphia; Boston; Nashville, TN; and Grand Rapids, MI.

“It’s encouraging that cities are recognizing the economic benefits of energy-efficient buildings, and equally encouraging that the number of programs across the country are increasing despite such difficult economic conditions,” says AIA Executive Vice President/CEO Christine McEntee. “Our ultimate goal is to achieve carbon neutrality in buildings by 2030, and that all design projects will be sustainable as a matter of course.”

Highlights from the Report:

  • 138 cities have green building programs, compared with 92 cities in 2007 – an increase of 50 percent.
  • 24 of the 25 most-populated metropolitan regions in the United States are built around cities with a green building policy.
  • The Western region has the most green building programs, with 56 cities in just six states.
  • The Mountain region is second in the percentage of cities with green building programs, with 24 percent of residents living in those cities.
  • The Eastern region has seen a 75-percent rise in green building programs since 2007.
  • The central region has 21 cities with green building programs.

Recommendations to Achieve Green Building Success:

  • Hire a director of sustainability.
  • Train and accredit municipal employees.
  • Pursue green economic development.
  • Implement additional sustainability initiatives.
  • Remove legal barriers.
  • Make program regional.
  • Take community-wide approach to green building and planning.
  • Utilize training and experience of architects.
  • Be inclusive.
  • Keep it simple.

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