While LEED remains the benchmark for green building standards, the emergence of alternative third-party evaluators gives engineers, architects and developers options to meet sustainability goals. Together, LEED, Green Globe and the International Living Building Institute’s Living Building Challenge are pushing the building industry to new standards as each organization refines its goals and creates new trends in green building. These changes are expected to help boost the green market in commercial construction from 2 percent in 2005, to 20-25 percent by 2013.
We are told that the U.S. Green Building Council is spurring change by updating its five-year strategic plan to capitalize on the attention now being focused on green building. Over the next five years it wants to remove roadblocks to green building demand by increasing the number of LEED-qualified people in the building trade, addressing the need for green practices within existing buildings and giving building owners and occupants the educational support to better manage, operate and inhabit green buildings.
While the U.S. Green Building Council gives developers a checklist to achieve LEED standards, the Living Building Challenge uses LEED as a baseline and pushes architects to design buildings that internally generate power and treat water. The author notes that while building to meet an LEED silver challenge costs the same or slightly more than not doing so, the Living Building Challenge costs anywhere from 5 to 50 percent more, making cost a major hurdle. To date no building has achieved the Living Building Standard, but two projects are currently being reviewed and are expected to achieve the standard. As the outreach director of the Living Building Challenge remarked in a classic understatement, “It’s refreshing to know there are folks out there willing to take that kind of financial risk.”