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US Green Building Council

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), founded in 1993, is a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated. The USGBC is best known for the development of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system and Greenbuild, a green building conference that promotes the green building industry, including environmentally responsible materials, sustainable architecture techniques and public policy.

USGBC has more than 15,000 member organizations from every sector of the building industry and works to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work. To achieve this it has developed a variety of programs and services, and works closely with key industry and research organizations and federal, state and local government agencies.

USGBC also offers a host of educational opportunities, including workshops and Web-based seminars to educate the public and industry professionals on different elements of the green building industry, from the basics to more technical information. Through its Green Building Certification Institute, formerly the LEED Accredited Professional program, USGBC offers industry professionals the chance to develop expertise in the field of green building and to receive accreditation as green building professionals.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

LEED began its development in 1994 spearheaded by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) senior scientist Robert K. Watson who, as founding chairman of the LEED Steering Committee until 2006, led a broad-based consensus process which included non-profit organizations, government agencies, architects, engineers, developers, builders, product manufacturers and other industry leaders. Early LEED committee members also included USGBC co-founder Mike Italiano, architects Bill Reed and Sandy Mendler, builder Gerard Heiber and engineer Richard Bourne. As interest in LEED grew, in 1996, engineers Tom Paladino and Lynn Barker co-chaired the newly formed LEED technical committee.

From 1994 to 2006, LEED grew from one standard for new construction to a comprehensive system of six interrelated standards covering all aspects of the development and construction process. LEED also has grown from six volunteers on one committee to more than 200 volunteers on nearly 20 committees and nearly 200 professional staff.

USGBC established benchmarks for the LEED Green Building Rating System in 2000. LEED is a framework for assessing building performance and meeting sustainability goals. LEED rating systems are currently available for new construction, existing buildings, commercial interiors, core and shell, schools, retail and homes, and rating systems are in pilot or under development for neighborhood developments and health care. Certification is generally voluntary, but required or under consideration as a requirement for certain buildings in many U.S. localities.

Recently, USGBC updated their online reference guides to help promote eco-friendly building practices worldwide. This included an interactive web tool to explain the LEED Green Building Rating System and a web application equating the rating system with a nutrition label.

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