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US: Green Building Council Helps Builders and Companies Go Green

by Paul GearyEnvironmental News Network
May 5th, 2005

More companies are beginning to see the benefits of having energy-efficient buildings and physical plants. Cleaner, more efficient office buildings and work spaces not only help the environment but can save a company money, improving that company's -- as well as all of society's -- bottom line.

One organization helps companies to realize the benefits of greener building.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a nonprofit coalition for "advancing buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthy places to live and work," according to the organization's website. The USGBC operates the "Green Building Rating System" for new buildings and the "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System" to grade the sustainable operation of existing buildings.

More than 5,500 companies and organizations are members of the council, which had certified more than 200 million sq. ft. of commercial space as LEED certified.

Companies that are certified by USGBC are then able to tout their environmental stewardship, and also will save money in the long run for having built cleaner operating, more energy-efficient buildings.

For example, recently USGBC certified the new technology and operations campus of KeyCorp (NYSE: KEY), outside of Cleveland, with a green certification. The company will realize an energy savings over the years, and the environment will benefit immediately: According to KeyCorp, the new buildings emit 2.7 million pounds less greenhouse gases, such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury. This is equal to removing 130 cars from the road or planting 378 acres of trees. The new campus was built on a former "brownfield" site.

KeyCorp is a bank with more than 900 branches in 12 mostly midwestern states, and has nearly 20,000 employees. The company says it plans to use green practices in its branches as well. KeyCorp's sales were more than $5.5 billion in 2004.

Governments are getting in on the act too -- recently the mayor of Scottsdale, Arizona, announced that all public buildings in that city were to be certified "LEED Gold," the USGBC's second-most stringent certification for existing buildings. Certification levels are Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

You can learn more about USGBC at its website: Source: USGBC, KeyCorp, CSRWire, Hoover's

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