Slowly, so slowly, we’re changing the gluttonous habits that have laid the groundwork for planetary doom. Here are a couple of happy bits of news I’ve learned while reporting this past week:
• Sustainable construction is now being driven in part by major investors. Fund mangers like the ones govenring CalPERS (the California state pension) are trying to put together real estate investments made up entirely of sustainable buildings. If there’s one thing we learned from the sub-prime mortgage debacle, it’s that the demand of big investment funds motivates people to create a supply.
• The Green Building Council, which created the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification process, unveiled LEED for Homes in January. It’s the first attempt at certifying single-family or smaller multi-family homes. Just eight months after establishing the process, they have 12,664 homes in the certification pipeline, representing half of all registered projects. There are many criticisms of LEED, but when people apply for certification, it at least suggests that they want to construct buildings on environmentally sound principles.
• Bank of America has made a commitment that all new construction of branches and offices will be LEED-certified.
• Both Meeting Professionals International and The Association of Meeting Professionals have been meeting (who plans the meetings of the meeting planners?) to find ways to make all those conventions and annual gatherings more environmentally neutral. Among recent brain storms: Get rid of individual water bottles in favor of a single reusable water cooler.
• A recent white paper from Norm Miller of the University of San Diego analyzed Energy Star and LEED certified buildings against non-certified buildings. The paper (PDF) indicated that the greener buildings had higher occupancy rates despite charging higher rents.