- Mark McDowell
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Make Green Buildings Grow
Buildings four stories and higher use 65 percent of electricity generated in the United States, according to a recent article on the website http://www.tmcnet.com/.
Several states – notably California – are requiring all new government buildings to qualify for green certification. Additionally, California is looking at the possibility of granting preferences to private building owners that are environmentally friendly when renewing leases with government agencies.
“All the people in the L.A. region want to come to my place to work,” said Peter Cho, chief engineer of the futuristic California Department of Transportation regional headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. The 13-story green building, which occupies an entire city block, is attracting people with its sleek horizontal architecture, abundant natural lighting and healthier indoor air.
The building incorporates one monolithic solar-panel wall, which makes it 35 percent more energy-efficient than California state building codes require. Another environmentally friendly element is the elevators that are programmed to skip two floors at a time to encourage building occupants to use the stairs.
Not unexpectedly, getting companies to build green is not easy. According to the United States Green Building Council’s Lance Williams, “There is resistance to anything new, especially if it requires people to invest in something new or to believe in something new. But there are people being converted…every single day.”
For their part, commercial building owners believe it is more effective to have direct financial incentives for going green. Government’s green-building programs help in this way, and the Building Owners and Managers Association International is lobbying Congress to extend tax incentives to retrofit buildings to conserve energy.