Water, Waste, and Transportation Benefits of Green Buildings

Clif Bar Headquarters, image courtesy of ZGF Architects, LLP

Report: Quantifying the Comprehensive Greenhouse Gas Co-Benefits of Green Buildings

Louise Mozingo. Professor and Chair LAEP and Urban Design; Ed Arens, Professor Emeritus Architecture, Director of CEDR


Principal Investigators: Louise Mozingo and Ed Arens. Team Members: For CREC and CBE: William Eisenstein, Kimberly Seigel and John Coins. UC Berkeley Graduate Students: Gwen Fuertes, Soazig Kaam, Bin Chen, Michelle Gonzales and Joe Zissman. 


U.S. Green Building Council Research Program and the California Air Resources Board (ARB).

Project Description

The output of this research is a report that quantifies, for the first time, 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 a set of office buildings certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system for Existing Building Operations and Maintenance (LEED-EBOM) to both baseline values of conventional California office buildings and predicted values based upon state standards for green buildings and GHG impact prediction methods.

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 0.703 MMTCO2e/yr from transportation, 0.084 MMTCO2e/yr from water, and 0.044 MMTCO2e/yr from waste, for a total potential savings of about 0.831 MMTCO2e/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.

The report is available here.