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GreenStep City Best Practices Buildings and Lighting

New Green Buildings
no. 3

Construct new buildings to meet or qualify under a green building framework.
  • See several reports and case studies highlighting the benefits and costs of building green.
  • Incremental Cost, Measurable Savings Update (Enterprise Green Communities: 2012) analyzes 52 affordable housing developments across the United States and finds that the lifetime savings exceed the cost of integrating the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria into affordable housing.
  • According to the Mayors' Alliance for Green Schools' Greening America's Schools: Costs and Benefits, green schools:
    • Cost about 2% more than conventional schools to build: about $3 per square foot more.
    • Provide financial benefits over the lifetime of the school that are 20 times as large as additional costs.
    • Save enough money annually to pay for an additional full-time teacher.
    • Use 30-50% less energy and 30% less water.
    • Use the school building itself as an interactive teaching tool and improve student learning.
  • The impact that site and building development has on total U.S. greenhouse emissions ranges from 44 - 62%, based on estimates by the University of MN Center for Sustainable Building Research:
    • Building operating energy: 30-43%
    • Employee travel: 10-13%
    • Building materials: 3-5%
    • Building waste, water and wastewater treatment, soils/site vegetation: 5%
  • In households, greywater can account for 60% of total wastewater volume and must be paid for by purchasing water and then by paying to dispose of it.
  • The energy employees typically use to travel to and from an average office building during a given time period - its transportation energy intensity - can be a third to twice more than the energy used to run the building during the same time period. Hence attention to the "green" footprint of a new building must consider an optimal location that shortens commutes and allows options to solo commuting by auto. See a building calculator from the University of MN that takes this into account.
Optional for category A, B and C cities
Category B and C cities that choose to implement this best practice are recognized upon completion of at least one action.

Category A cities that choose to implement this best practice are recognized upon completion of at least one public realm action 1 or 2 and at least one private realm action 3 through 5.
New buildings - whether public or private, and including both the building and the building site - present an opportunity to shape the face of a city and to "cement in" reduced operating costs and other benefits beyond what results from conformance with the State Building Code. By 2035 roughly one-third of the U.S. building stock will be either renovated or new. Cities can take actions to assure that this new building stock is higher-performing.

Studies in Minnesota and nationwide have shown that higher-performing green buildings deliver numerous benefits -- to the building owner, the building tenant, to the community, and to society. Benefits include capital cost savings (in some cases), reduced operating costs, higher resale value, increased occupant health and productivity, heat island mitigation (through building and site design), and decreased energy, water and materials use. City and private investments in buildings can be maximized by incentivizing the use of green building frameworks, which include codes, standards, rating systems with certification, and guidelines with verification.

greenstep advisor
Laura Millberg, MBA, LEED AP BD+C, Sustainable Development and Climate Resilience Principal Planner, MN Pollution Control Agency: 651/757-2568, laura.millberg@state.mn.us, http://www.pca.state.mn.us/yhiz6ef
connection to state Policy

  • As a condition of funding to cities, Minnesota Housing requires that new construction projects meet Green Communities Criteria for which technical assistance is available from Minnesota Green Communities.
  • All building projects (new buildings and major renovations) funded with state bond money are required to follow the state's B3 Guidelines, which incorporate the Sustainable Building 2030 standards requiring that buildings be designed to reduce use of fossil fuel energy 60% by 2010, 70% by 2015, 80% by 2020 and 90% by 2025.
  • Public buildings in design are able to access capital for energy efficiency upgrades by utilizing the state's Guaranteed Energy Savings Program (GESP).
  • New state plumbing code rules taking effect in January 2016 provide for reuse of treated rainwater within buildings for toilet flushing, vehicle washing, industrial processes, water features, cooling tower makeup and similar uses.