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How Green Is Your Building...err Country?
More news from the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland as reported on The Huffington Post. Environmental experts at Yale and Columbia released their Environmental Performance Index, which ranks 163 nations according to their performance on 25 indicators that fall into ten policy categories: environmental burden of disease, air pollution (effects on humans), air pollution (effects on ecosystem), water (effects on humans), water (effects on ecosystem), biodiversity and habitat, forestry, fisheries, agriculture, and climate change.
Iceland came in first; the U.S. a mediocre 61st and Sierra Leone dead last. It’s instructive to look at who got what ranking and why. Iceland earned the top spot because nearly all the country’s energy comes from renewable resources, such as this geothermal plant, pictured above.
Other top performers – Switzerland, Costa Rica, Sweden, and Norway – have made substantial investments in environmental infrastructure, pollution control, and policies designed to move toward long-term sustainability. The bottom five are impoverished countries that lack basic environmental amenities and policy capacity, which suggests a link between wealth and sustainability.
The U.S., a rich nation, scored well on some issues, such as provision of safe drinking water and forest sustainability, but showed weak performance on other issues including greenhouse gas emissions and several aspects of local air pollution. It lagged behind less wealthy countries including many in Eastern Europe and South and Central America with stronger results.
Top performers in the green building movement demonstrate strengths similar to the highest-ranking nations: an integrated approach that includes measurable performance and values human and ecological health.
That’s what we’ve been saying all along.