Architectural Record BE - Building Enclosure

Sustainability Rating Systems: Promoting Best Practices and Energy Efficiency

Easy to use online sustainability rating systems are educational tools that address all project phases.
This course is no longer active
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Advertorial course provided by Green Building Inititive
Barbara A. Nadel, FAIA
Continuing Education

Learning Objectives - After this course, you should be able to:

  1. Understand how building design and construction contributes to energy consumption.
  2. Evaluate sustainable design strategies to implement on building projects.
  3. Understand the best practices that sustainability rating systems should address.
  4. Learn how to use the Green Globes� rating system to design, assess, and verify environmental performance of commercial buildings.
  5. Understand why life cycle assessment (LCA) is critical to the objectivity of green building rating systems.



Green building, or sustainable design and construction, is a growing element of the global economy, in projected market share, and heightened public awareness. From building owners, architects, engineers, construction managers, and government agencies to the mainstream media and energy-consuming public, the business of green is now an important economic and social policy issue.

Rising energy costs impact all aspects of the building industry, from availability, transport, and processing, to demolition, recycling, and disposal of building construction materials. Buildings and their construction account for half of all greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption in the U.S. annually. This includes energy used in the production and transportation of materials to building construction sites, and energy used to operate buildings. Globally, the percentage is even greater. Buildings are the primary source of demand for energy and materials that produce by-product greenhouse gas.

"As of 2005, buildings account for 48 percent of U.S. energy consumption and generate far more greenhouse gas emission than any other sector," says R.K. Stewart, FAIA, principal of Gensler, San Francisco, and 2006 AIA First Vice President/2007 President Elect. Transportation accounts for 27 percent, and industry for 25 percent, respectively. "Architects must accept responsibility for our role in creating the built environment, and encourage our clients and the design and construction industry to join us in developing measurable changes that will improve the quality of life." To ensure results, AIA supports the development and use of rating systems and standards that promote a more sustainable environment.

The Blakely Hall Community Center, Issaquah, Washington, is the first U.S. building to receive a sustainability certification under the Green Globesâ„¢ rating system.
Architect: Weber + Thompson.
Photo courtesy of GBI.

Public and private sector owners and managers increasingly are reviewing the benefits and potential savings of green building and sustainable practices. The challenge of implementing sustainability into the built environment has provided new marketplace opportunities, from green building products and college programs, to sustainability rating systems.

This article will explore sustainability principles, implementing best practices, and applying sustainability ratings to create energy efficient commercial and residential construction, such as when using the Green Globesâ„¢ system.


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Originally published in Architectural Record.