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Monday, December 25, 2006

Green Buildings

On December 5, 2006, the DC City Council unanimously passed the DC Green Building Act and the mayor is required to submit a comprehensive set of green building standards by no later than January 1, 2008. The GB Act requires private developers to apply standards that will make new buildings environmentally friendly, applies to buildings 50,000 square feet and larger and to all buildings that receive public financing of 20 percent or more.

The Washington, DC-based Green Building Council (GBC) certifies environmentally friendly buildings via its Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), above left. The Portland, Oregon-based Green Building Initiative (GBI) also issues green buildings certifications called Green Globes. The GBC standard was adopted in the DC bill is considered to be more stingent than the GBI standard.

Standards do not require specific features, but award credits in categories such as site selection, energy and water efficiency, and materials. A building must get a certain number of credits to be certified. Green buildings include natural light, windows that open, low-flow water fixtures or no-flush urinals, which use a chemical trap instead of water.

Washington, DC joins Pasadena, Calif., and Montgomery County, Md, which adopted the standards earlier this year. LEED standards have been adopted in 18 states and 11 federal agencies for their own projects.

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