5 Ways the U.S. Green Building Council Improves Civil Construction

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The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is making several efforts at implementing wide ranging methods of green design into the field of civil engineering. Formed in 1993, the USGBC was created with the goal of promoting and providing better choices in sustainability and green design practices for the construction and building industry.

The USGBC was off to a successful start in its very first year by hosting a meeting of several nonprofits and more than sixty firms. By bringing these organizations together, the USGBC provided a platform from which ideas can be shared and exchanged for the purpose of developing a standard by which buildings must be constructed with a certain amount of green design technology.


LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a certification process through which buildings may be certified as “green” by adhering to a set of environmentally friendly standards and green design choices. LEED encompasses numerous methods of green design, which result in a greener and more cost-effective industry of building construction. LEED has been endorsed by numerous industry leaders from around the world as the most commonly used green building rating system. This rating system is divided into several categories and requirements for different types of projects and methods of building design.

Building and Construction

When it comes to building and construction, green design choices are being made from the very first stages of design. By adhering to the standards set by LEED for Building Design and Construction (LEED BD+C), buildings can be constructed in accordance with clear rules and regulations for a green and sustainable design. LEED BD+C is not just for any one type of project and may be applied to numerous building types. Since different types of construction projects are made to serve varying purposes, LEED has created a rating system that can be matched with numerous unique structures in order to meet the needs of each individual project.

New Construction and Major Renovation – Green design must be considered for both new building projects and renovations being made within existing buildings. These changes may involve making improvements to HVAC systems (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), renovating the building’s interior, and modifying the building envelope for a better green design.

Core and Shell Development – This refers to the development choices made for the mechanical, plumbing, protection, and electrical systems, which are known as the “core and shell.”

Schools – LEED provides several standards of green design for academic locations, including buildings and campuses used for grade school and higher education.

Retail – Retail locations include restaurants, clothing stores, shopping malls, and banks, among other types of retailers. LEED BD+C guidelines addresses the needs of each of these areas.

Data Centers – Since data centers house several types of computers and equipment for data processing and storage, numerous guidelines are available as a means of reducing the use of power and electricity.

Building Operations and Maintenance

Did you know that the energy wasted by demolishing existing buildings and constructing new ones consumes a vast amount of energy? In fact, it can take up to eighty years to erase the environmental ramifications of demolishing and rebuilding. It is therefore more energy efficient to take an existing building and make different types of changes. By implementing greener methods for operating and maintaining the building, existing structures can be retooled so as to meet LEED requirements for green design. Building operations and maintenance certification is known as LEED O+M.

Interior Design

Known as LEED ID+C, the certifications required for green interior design are very important, since numerous parties may not have control over the entirety of a building’s operations, but can still make several changes to indoor spaces that can have a lasting effect on green design. Whether the building is used for retail, hospitality, or other type of commercial interior, numerous choices can be made regarding lighting, computer systems, and water usage, in addition to other important details made to improve the use of energy and green design.


Choosing homes constructed with green design provides numerous benefits. In addition to being environmentally friendly, LEED homes consume less energy, which results in lower costs for utilities. Whether it is a single family home or multifamily building, meeting LEED certification leads to a cleaner and healthier living space.

Neighborhood Development

LEED certification can be applied not only to building projects, but entire neighborhoods. LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED ND) means to create a more well-connected and sustainable neighborhood. By building grocery stores and other structures within walking distance of residents, for example, there would be less cars on the road, which would lower the use of fuel. Bike lanes can be smoothly integrated into the roads alongside parks and other green areas.

The green choices of LEED

By meeting LEED certifications, civil construction projects can be designed with lower energy consumption, better cost efficiency, and higher sustainability. The standards set by LEED for building design will ensure a cleaner and healthier future for multiple generations.

Learn More

Civil engineers play a crucial role in engineering the structural solutions of tomorrow and plan, design, construct, and operate the infrastructure essential to our modern lives. As a student in the online Master of Science in Civil Engineering program, you can enhance your quantitative decision-making skills and learn how to justify managerial decisions with data. You will also explore the capabilities of modern management technologies and discover how to successfully leverage these tools to maximize efficiencies in your projects and on your teams.

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