LEED Zero milestone highlights shift in U.S. green building practices

As of this month, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has issued nearly 100 net-zero certifications under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Zero program, for buildings such as the Entegrity headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas. Photo courtesy Entegrity

As of this month, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has issued nearly 100 net-zero certifications under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Zero program, representing more than 7,000,000 m2 (23,000,000 sf) of space.

One-quarter of LEED Zero projects earned multiple certifications, demonstrating the achievement of net-zero goals in several categories.

A complement to LEED certification, LEED Zero provides a clear, data-driven path to recognizing net-zero goals and signals market leadership in the built environment. In 2018, the first year the program was released, certifications were earned in every category, with one project earning certification in all four categories.

LEED Zero energy certification is awarded to net-zero buildings and communities that generate as much energy as they use over the course of the year. LEED Zero Carbon recognizes net-zero carbon emissions from energy consumption through carbon emissions avoided or offset over one year. LEED Zero Water recognizes a potable water use balance of zero over one year. LEED Zero Waste recognizes buildings that achieve Green Business Certification Inc.’s (GBCI) TRUE certification at the Platinum level.

Recent years have spotlighted the need to reduce carbon emissions and accelerate efforts to achieve a low-carbon future. Buildings account for nearly 40 percent of all carbon emissions, and according to a 2020 United Nations report, buildings must reduce at least 50 percent of their carbon emissions by 2030 to achieve net-zero by 2050. Organizations, cities, and countries around the globe are now monitoring their outputs and committing to carbon emissions reductions as well as net-zero emissions.

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