ARB Research Seminar

This page updated November 20, 2014

Quantifying the Comprehensive Greenhouse Gas Co-Benefits of Green Buildings

Photo of William Eisenstein, Ph.D.

William Eisenstein, Ph.D., Executive Director, Center for Resource Efficient Communities (CREC), University of California, Berkeley

December 17, 2014
Cal EPA Headquarters, 1001 "I" Street, Sacramento, CA

Video: 1. 2.
Press Release
Research Project


Green building offers an important opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by minimizing the energy, water, waste, and transportation impacts of the building. Recognizing this, California's Assembly Bill 32 Scoping Plan and its Update both identify green buildings as an important GHG control strategy that cuts across resource sectors. While previous research has focused on the operational energy performance of green buildings, little has been done to quantify the GHG impacts of other building operations and management strategies rewarded by green building certification systems like Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED).

This research seminar will present findings from the first-known effort to measure the real-world performance of green building in terms of water, waste, and transportation impacts. Specifically, this research quantifies the greenhouse gas reduction benefits from the water, waste, and transportation performance of LEED-EBOM certified commercial buildings in California and finds that they outperform their traditional counterparts. On average, the LEED-EBOM commercial buildings analyzed produced 50% less GHG emissions from water consumption, 48% less GHG emissions from solid waste management, and 5% less GHG emissions from transportation when compared to traditional California commercial buildings.

These findings suggest there is significant potential to reduce GHG emissions through non-energy green building strategies. In addition, this research found that by far the largest source of building-related emissions was from the transportation to and from the building. This highlights that while the transportation sector is the most difficult to affect relative to the others, it offers the most potential because of the significant GHG-intensity of travel. The acceleration of on-site transportation strategies, coupled with the improvement of location siting decisions propelled by SB 375, can serve to significantly reduce building-related GHG emissions.

This information can support incorporation of strategies to reduce GHGs into the state's mandatory green building code and local government building codes. It can also support the adoption and use of voluntary green building programs.

Speaker Biography

William Eisenstein, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of the Center for Resource Efficient Communities (CREC) at the University of California, Berkeley. The CREC is a research center focusing on urban sustainability, climate change, water efficiency, energy efficiency, and land use. Dr. Eisenstein serves as the Urban Systems and Institutions leader for the National Science Foundation's engineering research center on Re-Inventing the Nation's Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt), and serves on the California Air Resources Board's Research Screening Committee reviewing diverse research pertaining to California's landmark greenhouse gas regulations and sustainable communities. Dr. Eisenstein has also served as a consultant to the State of California's Delta Vision process, the Delta Conservancy, the Delta Protection Commission, and the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan. He has also worked with Urban Ecology, Greenbelt Alliance, the Tri-Valley Business Council and others on urban sustainability issues in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

For a complete listing of the ARB Research Seminars and the related documentation
for the seminars please view the Main Seminars web page