Green Building History

In the late 1980s, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) created the Committee on the Environment (COTE), which has outlets today in just about every AIA chapter across the country. All across the US and Canada, architects have led the charge toward sustainable design, working through local COTE chapters, as well as the US Green Building Council chapters.

Created in 1993, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) aims to transform the building industry into a more environmentally responsible activity. Beginning in the mid-1990s, the USGBC undertook, with financial assistance from the US Department of Energy, the development of a rating and evaluation system to define what a green building represented. The first system, dubbed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED, for new construction and major renovations, was piloted or beta-tested in 1998 and 1999 on about 50 projects in the US. In March 2000, version 2.0 of LEED was introduced as an updated, revised and expanded version of the original LEED version 1.0. Since then version 2.0 has had two major changes; LEED for New Construction (LEED-NC) version 2.2, effective since late 2005, is the current standard.

The USGBC enjoyed rapid growth from 1998, when it had only about 100 members, to the beginning of 2007, when membership stood at more than 7,700 corporate, institutional, governmental and nonprofit organizations (it does not have individual members).1 Representing all segments of the building industry and environmental community, the USGBC has been able to craft a consensus standard for evaluating the environmental attributes of buildings and developments, by drawing on the resources of this large ($1 trillion annual construction value) and diverse industry.

Established in 2004, the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) now has more than 1,300 member organizations, with chapters in many provinces.2 The CaGBC uses the LEED evaluation system but has adapted it for Canadian conditions. By 2007 the CaGBC had more than 225 projects registered for certification under the Canadian LEED standard. Green building in Canada is a fast-growing movement, with a special focus on energy efficiency and indoor air quality suitable for a more northerly and colder climate.

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