Project at a Glance

Title: Quantifying the comprehensive greenhouse gas co-benefits of green buildings

Principal Investigator / Author(s): Arens, Edward and Louise Mozingo

Contractor: UC Berkeley

Contract Number: 11-323

Research Program Area: Climate Change

Topic Areas: Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Sustainable Communities


This project quantifies, for the first time, the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions co-benefits associated with water, waste and transportation usage in certified green commercial office buildings in California. The study compares the measured values of water, waste and transportation usage self-reported by a set of office buildings certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system for Existing Building Operations and Maintenance (LEED-EBOM) to both baseline values of conventional California office buildings and predicted values based upon state standards for green buildings and GHG impact prediction methods. The green buildings in the LEED-EBOM dataset produced 50% less GHGs due to water consumption than baseline buildings, 48% less due to solid waste management, and 5% less due to transportation. If applied to the entire California office building stock, performance typical of the certified green buildings would save 0.703 MMTCO2e/yr from transportation, 0.084 MMTCO2e/yr from water, and 0.044 MMTCO2e/yr from waste, for a total potential savings of about 0.831 MMTCO2e/yr relative to conventional construction. In addition, buildings earning additional credits for specified performance thresholds for water and waste in the LEED-EBOM code attained performance levels even higher than required by the code provisions, suggesting that such code provisions in other contexts may help incentivize larger GHG emissions reductions than anticipated.

For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Research Division staff at (916) 445-0753

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