Green Building Initiatives
Many state and local governments in the Southwest have adopted or are
developing green building programs that increase the efficiency with which
buildings use resources (energy, water and materials), while reducing the
impacts of buildings on human health and the environment. Many of the programs
are voluntary, offering incentives for projects that achieve green building
standards that are developed locally or that follow national standards (e.g.,
LEED). A few municipalities have adopted mandatory requirements for new homes
and commercial businesses.
Green building recently became part of the International Code Council’s
family of Codes and Standards: the I-Codes. The release of the International
Green Construction Code Public Version 1.0 in March 2010 introduced a green
building code written in mandatory language and vetted by a national group of
industry experts. Other significant and recent developments in green building
were the publication of the ICC 700-2008 National Green Building Standard and
ASHRAE Standard 189.1, Standard for High-Performance Green Buildings except
Low-Rise Residential Buildings.
Green buildings are cost effective to the building owner and the occupant.
Most projects have nominal first costs (typically less than 2% of the total
project budget) and are offset by energy savings, water savings and other
reduced operating costs that accrue over the life of the building. On average,
a green building uses 25-30% less energy than a typical building.1 Studies have
also shown that green buildings have higher occupancy and lease rates, and
improve occupant health and productivity.2
Below are brief summaries of the energy efficiency requirements and criteria
of residential, commercial and public sector green building programs in the
Southwest, with links to more detailed profiles of selected programs.
Information on tools and resources for ensuring that green buildings are
designed, built and operated to deliver measurable energy savings is provided in
the building efficiency information resources section.
Residential green building programs establish green building standards or
guidelines for new homes, additions, or remodels. The programs typically
require homes to achieve a 30% or greater improvement in energy efficiency
versus a typical new home. Some of the programs require new homes to achieve
net-zero energy performance (e.g., Boulder County, CO) or offset their energy
consumption with on-site renewables (e.g., City of Aspen, CO). Many communities
have developed their own points-based rating systems that include prescriptive
requirements or additional guidelines for energy efficiency, water conservation,
and use of on-site renewable energy systems, such as solar PV and solar hot
Energy efficiency measures include: high-efficiency heating and cooling
systems, enhanced building insulation and envelope sealing requirements, energy
efficient windows and doors, low-flow showerheads and plumbing fixtures, and
ENERGY STAR rated lighting and appliances.
The adoption of residential programs has accelerated in recent years with
more than a dozen of municipalities establishing a voluntary or mandatory green
building program. And many other local governments in the Southwest are planning
or committed to adopting programs in the near future.
Interest in commercial green building projects is growing rapidly in the
Southwest, with hundreds of green building projects completed or underway.
Many of these projects are market-driven, reflecting the growing demand for
energy efficient, environmentally friendly buildings and works spaces. A
growing number of states, municipalities in the Southwest are also providing
financial incentives, including tax credits, fast-track permitting programs, and
other incentives to encourage green building projects. For example, New Mexico
and Nevada offer tax credits for commercial green building projects. A few
municipalities have developed voluntary commercial green building programs or
guidelines, as well as mandatory green building requirements for new commercial
construction (e.g., City of Albuquerque, NM and Eagle County, CO).
The Jefferson Green Building, located in
Albuquerque, New Mexico, is
LEED-Gold Certified, and uses 45% less energy than a typical office
In the Southwest region, several municipalities have adopted commercial
programs. Typical energy efficiency features include high-efficiency HVAC
requirements, improvements to sealing and insulation, â€˜cool roof' mandates, and
ENERGY STAR lighting, appliances and heating and cooling equipment.
Convention Center incorporates energy efficiency design in order
to achieve 20% energy savings from lighting and HVAC controls
technologies, water savings from low-flow urinals, dual-flush
water closets, and low-flow lavatories (saving 1.9M gallons per
day). Efforts of the construction management team and recycling
activities resulted in diverting over 84% (3,100 tons) of
material away from the landfill.
Public Sector Programs
Several Southwest states and municipalities have adopted legislation or
executive orders requiring all new state buildings to achieve green building
certification for state buildings. States that require all new state buildings
to be LEED certified or higher include Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. Utah
has adopted Advanced Building Design Standards for State-Owned Buildings.3
At the local level, Mayors and other local officials have taken a leadership
role in establishing green building initiatives that require all city-owned or
certain other buildings receiving city funds to meet high performance standards.
Southwest municipalities such as Boulder, CO, Tucson and Scottsdale, AZ were
among the first in the nation to establish green building programs. These
programs have become national models and many other municipalities have followed
suit with their own programs that are based on locally developed green building
checklists, or national programs, such as LEED.
Examples of leading programs in the Southwest are provided below.
- Green Building
- City of Boulder, Colorado
Mandatory residential "Green Points and Green Building Program"
- City of Scottsdale, Arizona
Voluntary residential "Green Building Program"
- Town of Telluride, Colorado
Mandatory residential "Green Building Program"
- City of Salt Lake City, Utah
Mandatory Silver LEED certification for the public sector
- Southwest Green
View the communities in the Southwest region that have adopted green
building programs, and those which are actively developing programs.
Going Beyond Code: A Guide to Creating Energy
Efficient and Sustainable Buildings in the Southwest
SWEEP has developed the Going Beyond Code guide to help
state and local governments design and implement successful efficiency
programs for new commercial and residential buildings in the Southwest.
This section provides links to websites, presentations, reports and case
studies on developing and implementing green building projects, programs and
1 Energy Performance of LEED for New
Construction Buildings. New Buildings Institute.
The Cost of Green Revisited. Davis Langdon, 2007.