By Brian Clark Howard
Yet ironically, most of us spend far more time indoors, in office buildings, schools, even our own homes, where we can be exposed to contaminated air, water, mold, and other toxic chemicals without even knowing it. And because of the design and construction of these buildings, we might also be unwilling contributors to the wasteful use of energy, water and other natural resources. The U.S. Green Building Council
(USGBC) is a not-for-profit coalition of leaders from every sector of the building industry whose goal is to transform the way all new buildings and communities are designed, built and operated. Their goal is to encourage environmentally sustainable design, construction and operation standards for all new structures built in the United States. The organization evaluates and rates new construction on the basis of how well a building promotes the use of less energy, water and natural resources; how its design and construction reduces waste and how it ensures the health and comfort of its occupants. It awards buildings a gold, silver or platinum rating according to rigorous standards codified in its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. In order for a building to be LEED-certified
as green, it needs to be evaluated according to this system, which has become the national benchmark for all green buildings.