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Counties with Green Building Programs Have Surged Since 2003
In another sign that the green building movement is picking up momentum, a study has found that the number of counties in the United States with green building programs has surged from eight to 39 since 2003, an increase of 487.5 percent.
The report, Local Leaders in Sustainability: Green Counties, was conducted by the American Institute of Architects to examine the eco-friendly initiatives of U.S. counties.
"The experiences of these counties make it increasingly clear that investment in high-performance building programs is an efficient and popular use of taxpayer dollars.” says Paul Mendelsohn, AIA vice president, Government and Community Relations.
• At least 19.5 percent of all sample counties — 39 counties have a green building program.
• At least 42.9 million people, or 26 percent of the sample population, live in counties with green building programs
• An additional nine counties indicated that they are in a more advanced stage of developing green building programs, forecasting a future of increased green activity
Breaking down programs regionally helps demonstrate the degree to which green building programs have grown proportionately around the country:
• The Eastern Region has the most green building programs at 19, covering approximately 19 million people
• The Central Region has 7 programs, with approximately 9 million people living in those counties with green building programs
• The Mountain Region was a smaller portion of the sample, with only 3 programs; over 2 million people live in these counties
• The Western Region rounded out the survey with 10 green building programs and almost 13 million affected citizens
The report also includes a case study section in order to reflect the best practices and diversity of sustainability policy. Many of these programs have also been established for a number of years, providing the opportunity to see what works well and make adjustments as needed. Alameda County, Calif.; Hennepin County, Minn.; King County, Wash.; and Montgomery County, Md. have been chosen because they provide solid best practice examples of programs in different parts of the country that can be viewed as models.
These counties are also representative of the original innovators at the county level. Partially as a result of policies such as these, buildings across the country have undergone a revolution in terms of the emphasis that is placed on resource efficiency and life-cycle performance.
Another grouping of county governments across Florida, also featured, is now overcoming legal barriers to create a culture of sustainable development that represents the next wave of green building policy.
Working in conjunction with the National Association of Counties, the AIA spoke to planners, building officials, and sustainability managers across the country, resulting in a total response rate of 88 percent.
• Build a broad coalition that includes architects, builders, planners and design & construction professionals to be part of policy proposals
• Hire a full-time director of sustainability to coordinate efforts between departments, assist with long-term plans, recommend new policies and avoid failures in communication
• Train and accredit county employees in whatever rating system the community plans to use
• Work with regional governments to avoid patchwork and independent programs