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The Latest Corporate Social Responsibility News: Green Building LEEDs on Climate Solutions

Submitted by: CSRwire

Categories: Events, Corporate Social Responsibility

Posted: Jun 09, 2009 – 11:59 PM EST


Jun. 09 /CSRwire/ - CSRwire - June 9, 2009 -

By CSRwire Contributing Writer Bill Baue of Sea Change Media

The biggest consumer of energy in the US is not transportation, but rather the 64 billion square feet of real estate. The US building sector consumes 40 percent of the country’s energy, and is responsible for the same percentage of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These stats come from two companies committed to green building, an increasingly prominent movement in the business world.

The first stat comes from The Tower Companies, the “biggest Green Builder” in Washington, DC, which just announced LEED Platinum Certification for Commercial Interiors for its corporate offices. LEED (or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) was developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) to recognize best practice in green building principles such as energy & atmosphere, water efficiency, and other measures that reduce global warming impacts and make buildings healthier. Tower, which now has six LEED certified project under its belt, advocates for government “to quickly enact legislation offering tax incentives” for green building “because climate change is everyone's responsibility,” according to Tower Partner Jeffrey S. Abramson.

The second set of stats come from United Technologies Corp CEO Louis Chenevert, who received a 2009 National Building Museum Honor Award for the company’s energy efficient building products -- such as Otis ReGen elevators that use 75 percent less energy than conventional models. Chenevert points out that green building products and technologies on the market now could cut buildings’ energy consumption by almost 70 percent -- “the equivalent to eliminating the energy consumption of the entire US transportation sector,” he said. Such deep cuts are “essential to meeting global climate change targets” according to a recent World Business Council for Sustainable Development report on green building.

Nestle Waters North America is leading on green building in the food and beverage sector, with six LEED certified facilities that have conserved 9 million gallons of water since 2002. Its water bottling facility in Breinigsville, Pennsylvania that recently earned Gold certification will conserve about 220,000 gallons of water a year, 55% better than EPA requirements.

Of course, some activists question the alignment between these companies’ primary business activities and “green” claims. For example, get="_blank" href="http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?list=type&type=14"> and Crocodyl critique the human rights and environmental record of United Technologies. The little town of Montague, Massachusetts successfully challenged Nestle Waters’ bid to draw from its aquifer, and the Sierra Club advocates against water privatization nationally.

For other companies, green building aligns seamlessly with their core mission. For example, the USGBC just awarded LEED Gold Certification to Seventh Generation for the first phase of renovating the corporate offices. President and Chief Inspired Protagonist Jeffrey Hollender explains the “invisibility” of green building in a setting already committed to sustainability such as Seventh Generation. “It's a remarkably healthy space, and what's interesting is that you don't see it. It works just like any other office and looks absolutely state-of-the-art, which shows that sustainable design needn't mean making sacrifices.”

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