Journal article

This paper quantifies the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions co-benefits associated with water, waste and transportation usage in certified green commercial office buildings in California. The study compares the measured values of water, waste and transportation usage self-reported by office buildings certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system for Existing Building Operations and Maintenance (LEED EBOM) to baseline values of conventional California office buildings. The green buildings in the LEED EBOM dataset produced 50% less GHGs due to water consumption than baseline buildings, 48% less due to solid waste management, and 5% less due to transportation. If applied to the entire California office building stock, performance typical of the certified green buildings would save 730,038 MgCO2e/yr (metric tonnes) from transportation, 87,601 MgCO2e/yr from water, and 45,280 MgCO2e/yr from waste, for a total potential savings of about 862,920 MgCO2e/yr relative to conventional construction. In addition, buildings earning additional credits for specified performance thresholds for water and waste in the LEED EBOM code attained performance levels even higher than required by the code provisions, suggesting that such code provisions in other contexts may help incentivize larger GHG emissions reductions than anticipated. Specific recommendations are made for building standards and certification schemes.

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