American buildings continue to push limits of green construction

October 26, 2011

Green building in North America has continued to surge and has generated a certification cottage industry as many architects and buildings are now seeking to obtain credentials from organizations like the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the Guardian reported.

The USGBC has put significant effort into popularizing both the certification of structures and construction of energy efficient buildings and has worked with the Department of Energy (DOE) to accomplish this goal. The DOE designated a site, the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy-Efficient Buildings project (GPIC), as a living laboratory for the development of technology to be used on these properties.

According to the news source, the emerging trend of green building has led to the retrofits of older, recognizable structures and new complexes like the City Centre in Las Vegas.

The Associated Press reported that the City Centre building in the northern section of the city cost $127 million and actually came in under budget despite the green features of the structure.

The new building replaced the old city hall and won a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver (LEED) certification, the first structure in Las Vegas to be recognized by the USGBC for this honor, according to the news source.

A grassy civic plaza was added to the property due to a grant from the city, as the $6.3 million addition will serve as a place where outdoor special events are held, reported the Las Vegas Sun.

According to the newspaper, the 210,000-square-foot building will house all of the city services under one energy efficient roof.

Though the concept of green building may seem like one that is only available to large organizations, smaller institutions like North Shore Community College in Danvers, Massachusetts, have also constructed energy efficient buildings, according to The Boston Globe.

"As an educational institution, we have an obligation to be a regional leader in many ways, and one is to make sure that what we are teaching our students is how we are actually behaving," Wayne Burton, president of North Shore, told the newspaper.

The Globe reported that the three-story building has attained zero net energy status and officials from the college are hoping that the structure will qualify for the LEED certification from the USGBC.

Technology used in the building includes solar electric panels, a green roof garden, geothermal walls and a design that maximizes the use of sunlight, according to the newspaper.