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The Green Decade
The we-don’t-know-exactly-what-to-call-it decade is ending this week. Pundits are labeling it the aughts, (which means “zero”), or the 00s. Whatever its name, many wished it hadn’t happened: 9/11, the collapse of the financial markets, Katrina, two never-ending wars. Paul Krugman called it “Big Zero — the decade in which we achieved nothing and learned nothing.”
BUT, for us greenies, the decade has been spectacular. On January 1, 2000 USGBC was entering its sixth year and had not officially launched what came to be known as LEED for New Construction. All the other LEED rating systems were either in early development or not yet even a glimmer in USGBC’s eye. Now more than 4.2 billion square feet of commercial and residential building space are under the LEED umbrella with LEED projects in all 50 states and 69 countries.
The organization’s growth has more than quadrupled since 2000 to over 20,000 member companies that employ over 14 million people.
There were no LEED APs at the dawn of the decade. The first exam was offered in 2001; today the number of LEED APs is approaching 140,000. Be there or be square, as the saying goes.
Some of the key environmental federal milestones happened during the 2000s: the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings MOU signed by 19 federal agencies, Executive Order 13423, and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that includes requirements for high performance green federal buildings. Many municipalities around the country enacted green building design and construction requirements. Here’s a short list.
Think back to 2000 and all the green buildings yet to be designed and constructed in this decade, the sustainable materials yet to be developed and all of you environmental champions yet to have your green epiphanies. Yeah, it’s been a terrific ten years.