environmental Value
Climate

Prevailing weather conditions such as temperature, humidity, wind and precipitation that define the environment

Buildings are the largest single contributor to climate change, accounting for about half of all carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.1 The earth’s average temperature has risen by 1.53°F (0.85° C) since 18802 and is predicted to warm 2.5-10° F by the end of this century.3 Even slight temperature changes can produce dangerous shifts in weather conditions, resulting in flooding, droughts, heat waves, and rising sea levels. Studies estimate the risk to the built environment over the next half century could be as high as $35 trillion.4

Through smart design, designers can help address these growing problems. Over its first decade, the USGBC’s LEED rating system cut annual carbon emissions by 9.4 million tons, the equivalent of taking 1.5 million cars off the road—forever.5 Projecting this over the next two decades, emissions are expected to drop by 70%, resulting in an estimated savings of over $6 trillion.6 Although energy use in buildings is a major contributor to climate change, a buildings material selection and site response can also contribute to deforestation and forest degradation which lead to greenhouse gas emissions.7 Buildings can make a big difference.