Dallas Goes ‘All-In’ On Green Buildings With Mandatory Regulations

by Silvio Marcacci

Dallas skyline image via Shutterstock
Dallas skyline image via Shutterstock

Looks like America has a new contender for “Greenest City” – at least when it comes to green buildings – and it’s probably not where you’d expect.

Dallas, Texas implemented mandatory minimum green building regulations on October 1st in an aggressive effort to cut citywide power and water consumption en route to its goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.

The regulations are the final step in a five-year implementation of the Dallas Green Building Construction Ordinance, cover all new residential and commercial buildings, and create a comprehensive green building standard across the city.

Green Building Tackles Energy, Water, Building Waste

All new construction projects proposed in Dallas must now meet minimum certification requirements from one of three established standards: Green Built Texas, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), or the International Green Construction Code (IGCC).

Since drought is such an important issue in Texas, the new regulations focus on water preservation – especially when it comes to single-family homes. At least 70% of the built area for homes (excluding areas under a roof) must be permeable or capture water runoff, homes must use drip irrigation for bedding areas of landscaping, and must include high-efficiency fixtures.

Commercial buildings are also expected to do their part, with a 20% water use reduction goal, restrictions on outdoor lighting to prevent light pollution, and cool roof or green roofs requirement to cut urban heat island effects.

The construction process is also getting a lot greener with requirements to divert a 50% minimum percentage of waste material is from landfills as well as source 45% of building components from recycled, recyclable, bio-based, or local materials. In addition, developers will have to attend training classes and pass a certification exam to receive green builder certification.

While the new regulations may be comprehensive, green buildings aren’t new to Dallas. The city is already home to over 140 LEED-certified buildings, including 23 LEED-certified municipal government facilities, has 59 million square feet of Energy Star-certified buildings, and Texas placed second with over 36 million square feet of LEED-certified buildings in the US Green Building Council’s 2012 state rankings.

Green Business Too?

But even though green building will help improve Dallas’ environment, the new regulations could also help boost the regional economy. Green building is expected to top $248 billion in revenue nationwide by 2016, and the green home-building market could be worth $114 billion by 2016.

Considering Texas now has the third-largest concentration of LEED professionals in America and building asset values rise when builders make sustainable investments, Dallas’ green building mandate isn’t just an environmentally friendly move – it might just be an incredibly savvy green business push, too.

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This article, Dallas Goes All-In On Green Building With Mandatory Regulations, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Silvio Marcacci Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

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Green Buildings could be Half of all US Construction, worth $248 billion by 2016

by Silvio Marcacci  — Special to JBS News

Green building is growing fast in the US, and may represent more than half of all commercial and institutional construction as soon as 2016.

A new report from the US Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED in Motion: People and Progress, details green building’s exponential growth and outlines both the value of the industry and its reach into American lives.

The report is the first of three LEED in Motion summaries planned for release in 2013, and it reveals yet another key indicator that sustainability can be as much an economic boost as an environmental one.

Millions Living And Working In Green Buildings

As a snapshot in time, People and Progress finds millions of Americans benefiting from LEED projects. USGBC estimates more than 4.3 million people live and work in LEED-certified buildings every day, while more than 6.2 million people experience LEED projects every day during their daily routine.

Green building, of which LEED properties are a key subset of, represented around 44% of all commercial and institutional construction in America across 2012, and that percentage should pass 55% as early as 2016.

All this growth means jobs and profits, according to USGBC. Green building could top $140 billion in revenue with 835 million square feet of construction this year, 35% of all US construction jobs today are in green building, and industry revenue could top $248 billion by 2016.

LEED in Motion green professionals

LEED in Motion green professionals graphic via US Green Building Council
While Washington, DC has long led the US in per-capita LEED certifications, that may be set to change, as California and New York State took the lead with the most LEED professionals and USGBC members. Fitting, considering California’s place as the epicenter of America’s clean tech market and New York City’s success with energy efficiency retrofits.

Commercial Buildings Lead, But Residential Projects On The Upswing

USGBC’s findings echo the results of McGraw Hill Construction’s “Green Retail and Hospitality SmartMarket Report released earlier this year, which estimated more than half of all new retail, restaurant, and hotel construction would be green building projects by 2015, boosting values anywhere from 7%-11%.

Commercial buildings have traditionally led the green building charge, but residential properties are also growing fast. USGBC finds 93,120 bedrooms in 10,174 LEED-certified single-family homes and 1,236 LEED-certified multifamily buildings. Previous market research has predicted residential green building projects could be worth up to $114 billion industry-wide by 2016.

LEED in Motion graphic

LEED in Motion graphic via US Green Building Council

From Novelty To Norm

This growing exposure to green buildings and sustainable design seems like it’s starting to move LEED certifications from novel to must-have. “The new LEED in Motion report reflects that incredible cross-section of people – diverse in background, geography, and vocation – who are working together to fulfill USGBC’s mission of a sustainably built environment within a generation,” said Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC CEO.

Indeed, growth rates for green businesses have risen faster than conventional goods in America, and every day brings another US green building first, from the first LEED-certified National Football League stadium to the world’s largest net-zero building.

About the Author

Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

Green Buildings: A great step in the right direction!

by John Brian Shannon

Of all of the energy produced and used by humans worldwide, approximately one-third is used for all forms of transportation. This kind of energy is the ‘dirtiest-third’ contributing substantially to total atmospheric emissions when compared to other kinds of energy usage.

Another third of the energy consumed by our civilization is used by industry, which also contributes to atmospheric emission levels — and depending on where you live in the world, the environmental effects of that pollution can range from negligible to toxic.

The last third of energy consumption on the Earth is used for residential and commercial uses. When you turn on the heat, the lights, or look at illuminated signs and streetlights on your way to the air-conditioned shopping mall, these are all examples of residential and commercial energy use.

When we talk about the emissions from the three main kinds of energy users, the question arises; Which of the three can lower emissions at reasonable cost?

Another related question; Is green energy the answer, or is conservation?

It turns out that conservation beats anything else, hands down. No matter how clean your car operates for each mile you drive it — for each mile that you don’t drive it, the car produces zero emissions. The same holds true for cities that shut-off or power-down their streetlights after midnight. No matter how energy-efficient streetlights are these days, they still use less power turned OFF, when compared to turned ON.

Of course, we need energy to live in our modern world – that is a given. But it seems right to reduce wasted energy and one of the most cost-effective ways to do this is to employ conservation AND green energy in our buildings.

Until recent decades, energy wastage for commercial buildings and residential buildings was truly mind-boggling (sometimes much more than 50%) but great progress has been made and continues to be made in the fields of energy conservation and energy-efficient buildings.

Buildings which employ such technologies can become LEED certified if their architects apply for that certification — and the buildings meet the strict criteria, which confers a high level of efficient design and engineering technologies on a building, resulting in low emissions and low energy use. We call this having a Low Environmental Footprint here in North America, while in the UK such buildings have a Zero Net Building status.

Under the leadership of Mayor Vincent C. Gray, Washington, DC, is setting a great example for other cities by rapidly becoming a world leader in clean and green buildings.

The Living Building Challenge is part of numerous efforts by the city to reach Mayor Gray’s “Sustainable D.C.” initiative, which includes 11 key categories for environmental/fiscal improvement. The categories include goals such as cutting the energy consumption [of] the entire city by half, being able to bring in locally grown food within a quarter mile of the city and have it consumed by 75 percent of D.C. residents, as well as triple the number of small businesses within the city. — Carl Pierre, InTheCapital.com

JOHN BRIAN SHANNON

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