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Green Buildings and Sustainable Development. Kevin Samy Yale University Master of Environmental Management, 2012 School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. Sustainable Development. United Nations

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green buildings and sustainable development

Green Buildings and Sustainable Development

Kevin Samy

Yale University

Master of Environmental Management, 2012

School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

sustainable development
Sustainable Development
  • United Nations

Development that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs"

the problem
The Problem
  • The negative impacts of Climate Change caused by anthropogenic influence will worsen over time
  • Energyuse accounts for a large portion of harmful climate change inducing Greenhouse Gas emissions
  • Buildings use large amounts of energy
    • Buildings worldwide account for approx. 19% of all GHGs (at least 40% of energy use in most countries), a survey of key players in real estate and construction indicates*

*World Business Council for Sustainable Development,

Energy Efficiency in Buildings: Business Realities and Opportunities, Aug 2007 

buildings and energy
Buildings and Energy
  • World Bank estimates by 2050…
    • 85% of the world population will live in developing countries
    • More than 80% of people will live in cities
  • Given building energy usage is costly (fiscal and emissions), sustainable infrastructural development will be key to environment, health, and economic prosperity
the paper s aim
The Paper’s Aim
  • Not a prescription
  • Perspective piece based on experiences in U.S. Environmental Policy
    • Setting GHG Reduction Targets
    • Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Funds
    • Green Building Rating Systems
    • The Cost/Benefit case for Green Buildings
ghg reduction targets
GHG Reduction Targets
  • Part of a larger scale policy
    • Presidential Environmental Executive Order
    • Energy usage  GHG emissions
    • U.S. target: 28% reduction by 2020
  • Virtues
    • Low policy implementation costs
    • Behavioral implications
    • Locate and address inefficiencies


revolving loan fund
Revolving Loan Fund

Initial Capital Investment

Revolving Loan Fund

Project Approval

Loan Funded Project

Loan Disbursement

Loan repayment, via savings accrued through project

energy conservation investment program
Energy Conservation Investment Program
  • U.S. Dept of Defense Energy Conservation Investment Program (ECIP)
    • Savings-to-Investment-Ratio of 1.25 or higher
    • Program payback of 10 years or less
  • $10 million initial investment (FY1991)
  • Grown to $225 million in FY2010
revolving loan fund cases
Revolving Loan Fund Cases
  • Harvard University Green Campus Loan Fund
    • 153 energy efficiency projects
    • Saved over $4 million
    • Averaged a 27% Return on Investment
  • The “LoneSTAR” program, Texas (U.S.)
    • 191 projects
    • Saved over $212 million
    • Saved $2.15 for every $1 invested
  • Ann Arbor Municipal Energy Fund, Michigan (U.S.)
    • Saved the city over $700,000
    • Continues to reduce around 980,000 tons of CO2 annually
    • Self sustaining after 3-5 years
green building rating systems
Green Building Rating Systems
  • Third-party verification
  • Normalization of performance metrics
      • energy savings
      • water efficiency
      • CO2 emissions reduction
      • improved indoor environmental quality
      • stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts
  • Scalable across sectors and countries
green building rating systems1
Green Building Rating Systems
  • United States, LEED
    • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
  • Japan, CASBEE
    • Comprehensive Assessment System for Build Environment Efficiency
  • Europe, BREEAM
    • Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method
  • Australia, NABERS
    • National Australian Built Environment Rating System
construction costs and benefits
Construction Costs and Benefits

Lal, A. and Y. Qian, Green Building Trends in China.BusinessForum China, 2007.

quantifying social costs benefits
Quantifying Social Costs & Benefits
  • Benefits largely overlooked
    • Health
    • Occupant morale/retention
    • “social costs” avoided through associated GHG emissions prevented
    • Increased productivity
  • The social benefits resulting from green space add significantly to economic benefits, yet are not included in conventional Cost Benefit Analysis
  • The “Social Cost of Carbon” appropriately internalizes a negative externality
the role of the next generation
The Role of the Next Generation
  • Sustainable Development: balancing development and environmental and natural resource preservation will result in the most prosperous outcome possible
  • Cooperation: Ideological differences must be reconciled
  • Recognition of Mutual Interest: There is no scenario in which the abatement of GHGs and the stoppage of rising global temperatures is a undesirable

“Buildings are responsible for at least 40% of energy use in most countries. The absolute figure is rising fast, as construction booms, especially in countries such as China and India. It is essential to act now, because buildings can make a major contribution to tackling climate change and energy use.”

World Business Council for Sustainable Development