Did you know that buildings industry in the United States uses an estimated 60 percent of total resources consumed in the country every year? In addition, it produces an alarming 30 percent of total US waste. Very un-green, right?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also estimates that buildings are responsible for 39 percent of total energy use, 12 percent of the total water consumption, 68 percent of total electricity consumption and 38 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions. That’s why the EPA is on a mission to change that though its Sustainable Design and Green Building initiative. The goal is to make homes, office buildings, schools and community centers more environmentally-friendly and at the same time improve the health and comfort of the buildings’ occupants.
The initiative is already making progress in the Southeast, with states like Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida leading the way. Mississippi, for example, has 651 LEED-certified homes — more than any other state in the country. In 2013, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) recognized the state of Ohio as the first state to LEED-certify 100 of its public school buildings. And South Carolina became the first state to offer a High School Sustainability Curriculum which helps students learn to build sustainable buildings with minimal negative environmental by using materials, energy, room size and and orientation.
If you’ve ever had an idea for a green design or a sustainable architecture project, here’s a great tool for you — the Chicago Architecture Foundation created Discover Design. The digital space allows you to connect with other teens, teachers and design professionals, learn architecture skills, share your ideas, get feedback and solve real-life design problems.