Sustainable Construction in Texas

At the core the U.S. Green Building Council’s mandate is a commitment to sustainable development.  When the Council organized in 1993, the founders set about promoting green construction by defining guidelines for sustainable building.To be sustainable, a project must “meet the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  For too long, American development and development in Texas was shortsighted and driven by immediate results and immediate profits.Sustainable, green construction takes a longer view, acknowledging that the availability of all materials is limited.  When Will Rogers said that they don’t make land anymore, he was right.  Americans now need to apply that principle to more raw materials and maximize the return on these resources.Green building must be environmentally, economically and socially responsible.  The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® rating system is a voluntary program that helps guide guidelines for sustainable, green development.The LEED® rating system contains three levels of requirements.•    Prerequisites – Certain green elements that must be attained before a project can be considered for LEED® certification•    Core Credits – Voluntary actions associated with a project that help the project reach certain required levels.•    Innovation Credits – Usually environmental credits that exceed core credits and implement exemplary performance.  Often, these credits are outside the scope of the rating system.Texas has a proud tradition of LEED® certification.  Austin was the first city in the country to require certification for all public projects of more than 5000 square feet.Dallas implemented its own LEED® certification requirement for all publicly owned buildings of 10,000 square feet or more.  The Dallas City Council has performed extensive research and has amended their original 2003 decision to reflect current sustainable development trends.Frisco has recently adopted LEED® certification standards on its new capital projects.  The city is considering an ordinance requiring LEED® certification for all commercial development.Texas is leading a national trend toward sustainable development as a practical solution to expansion.  Private development is recognizing many of the economic benefits of green construction that provide for reduced operating costs and values that appreciate.

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