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Rebuilding the Unity of Health and the Environment: The Greater Houston Metropolitan Area - Workshop Summary
A major step in the right direction, he said, is a tool called LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Generated by the United States Green Building Council—a consortium of industry, the design community, manufacturers, and government—LEED is now the de facto national standard for healthier buildings. It addresses five basic macro levels of design, construction, and operations, encompassing stringent criteria for building certification. Although it omits direct references to health, this objective is addressed indirectly by practices that are inherently more healthful, said Yeoman; however, advocates are currently working to explicitly include health in LEED.
Green buildings challenge many of the preconceived notions taught in architectural and engineering curricula. They stress the long term rather than the quick turnaround.
At present, there are 1,017 registered sites of new construction conforming to LEED, and they are spread across 49 states (all but South Dakota). Texas ranks in the top 10 with 13 projects totaling about 5 million square feet, while California is in the lead (Figure 5.6).
Future steps, according to Yeoman, should include national funding of basic research that links built systems and health; good-government statements, emanating particularly from the academic sector, that strongly encourage all political subdivisions to adopt and employ LEED in the construction of public buildings; and a nationwide campaign of public education directed toward individual
FIGURE 5.6 Top 10 states with LEED new construction. Forty nine states have projects that meet LEED construction. Of the 1,017 registered sites, more than half (582) are in the top 10 states. SOURCE: U.S. Green Building Council. Reprinted with permission.