A. A green building, or sustainable building, is a structure that is designed, built or renovated and operated to use resources efficiency and reduce the overall impact on the environment. For instance, a green building may be oriented and designed to primarily use natural lighting for its lighting needs; high-efficiency lighting systems with motion sensors tied to dimmable lighting controls and the use of task lighting to reduce overhead light levels are other elements that might be seen in a green building.
Green buildings are typically located to take advantage of existing infrastructure, including public transportation, and development. They minimize energy use and may utilize renewable energy like solar, geothermal and wind. Green buildings minimize water and material use, both in construction (or renovation) and operating. Green buildings can be certified by rating systems such as LEED, ENERGY STAR, and the Living Building Challenge and also may have green features without certification.
Explore more about green buildings here.
Q. What are the financial benefits of building green?
A. Green buildings and retrofits save money and resources. In the U.S. buildings account for over 40% of primary energy use, over 70% of electrical consumption and nearly 15% of potable water consumption. By limiting the demand for these resources through building design and operation a building owner can save money. In fact, studies have found that building green can reduce energy use 25-50%, water use by 40% and solid waste by 70%. The increased demand for green buildings may also result in higher rents – an additional financial incentive to building green.
Visit GBA's Business Case for Green Buildings to explore more incentives.
Q. Are there financial incentives to building green?
A. Yes. Grants and tax incentives exist to help pay finance elements of green buildings, particularly energy efficiency. The City of Pittsburgh offers Sustainable Development Bonuses and a summary of other regional, State and National funding opportunities for green building projects can be found at The Database for State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.
A. It is GBA’s mission to spread the wealth of knowledge of green building onto its constituents and the general public. Western Pennsylvania is a leader of the green building movement. It is the region’s responsibility to share its green building resources and experiences. GBA has two main directories that explain the how-to of green building and highlights the successes of the region.
The Projects Directory serves to highlight case studies of green projects throughout the region. These case studies highlight new innovations and increased building performance. The Project Directory also admits the submission of projects. If you would like to submit a project’s case study, please contact Alyssa Hopper at email@example.com.
The Products Directory is a statewide initiative that promotes and supports local green building product manufacturer, distributor, and sales offices. This searchable directory assists architects, engineers, and consumers in finding the right green building product for their project. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to list your products for free! Listing is easy; just use the side menu on this page or list here.
A. As a whole, buildings create more global CO2 emissions than any other sector, including transportation and industry. In the U.S., buildings account for nearly 40% of our total CO2 emissions. Studies have shown that CO2 emissions from green buildings are a third less than their conventional building counterparts.
Q. What are the health impacts of building green?
A. Green buildings can provide a pleasant, healthy, working and living environment – particularly critical given that in the U.S., people spend an average of 90% of more of their time indoors. Occupants of green buildings are healthier and more productive. Specifically, studies have shown a reduced rate of respiratory disease, allergies, asthma and sick building symptoms among occupants of green buildings in comparison to those in conventional buildings.
Q. What is LEED?
A. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). It is an internationally recognized green building certification system with third party verification through the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). LEED has been modified and expanded several times since its initial release in 1998. In its present version, LEED v3, rating systems exist for specific building types, sectors and project scopes: LEED for Existing Buildings: Operation & Maintenance, LEED for Core & Shell, LEED for New Construction, LEED for Schools, LEED for Neighborhood Development, LEED for Retail, LEED for Healthcare, LEED for Homes and LEED for Commercial Interiors.
A. The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) manages all LEED professional credentials which include LEED Green Associate (GA) and LEED Accredited Professional with Specialty (AP with Specialty) credentials.
The first step for acquiring credentials is to take the LEED Green Associate (GA) exam; this is the first tier of a LEED professional. This exam indicates that the professional has the core, or basic, knowledge of green building. This designation is geared towards professionals who are involved in structuring the development of green buildings, but who are not directly responsible for them.
The second tier of professional credentials is a LEED AP with Specialty. Specialty can be acquired in Building, Design and Construction (BD+C), Interior Design and Construction (ID+C), Operations and Maintenance (O&M), Neighborhood Development (ND), and/or Homes (H). All candidates for the LEED AP with Specialty designation must have experience with the documentation of a LEED registered or certified project.
Lastly, LEED Fellow is a designation that commends the most venerable professionals within green building. These professionals have influence and transformed the built environment through their experience and dedication to the green building industry.
A. The USGBC has made resources for each exam type and also provides supporting education programs for each exam. Visit the USGBC's Professional Credentials to purchase these resources.
GBA also provides education programs, including Test Preps and webinars for Continuing Education Credits for LEED professionals throughout the year. To view GBA’s website to view our Events and Education Calendar. Make sure to subscribe to GBA’s E-Updates to keep up-to-date with educational opportunities.
A. Currently, GBA does have scheduled assistance to those seeking LEED project experience. We are investigating ways to help facilitate LEED project networking and experience in the future. Make sure to subscribe to GBA’s E-Updates to keep up-to-date with educational opportunities on our Events and Education Calendar.
A. Professionals that have taken the LEED AP exam prior to LEED 2009 achieved the LEED AP designation. This credential does not require continuing education to maintain the designation. The LEED AP designation will never expire or be taken away from a professional. However, to increase one’s knowledge of green building, the LEED AP can upgrade to a LEED AP with Specialty designation. This upgrade will ensure that a professional is up-to-date with the most current green building strategies and education. To achieve the LEED AP with Specialty test or LEED GA, a LEED AP professional must apply, register, schedule and pass all the applicable exam tracks. Find out more about the LEED AP credential.
A. The Credential Maintenance Program (CMP) is a program that tracks LEED AP with Specialty and LEED Green Associate’s continuing education hours in order to renew their LEED credentials every two years. Professionals who do not reach the designation continuing education hours (CEs) within the two year window will forfeit their LEED designation.
A. GBA provides programs to contribute to LEED Professionals’ continuing education (CE). GBA conferences, webinars, and lunch & learns provide green building education that enhances professionals’ knowledge of current trends and key strategies of green building. Some educational offerings are LEED Specific education hours; these programs will be highlighted in the program descriptions. To view GBA’s education, view our Events and Education Calendar. Make sure to subscribe to GBA’s E-Updates to keep up-to-date with educational opportunities.
The USGBC also provides education through its Course Catalog. The catalog contains online and in-person educational trainings. All courses are approved for CE hours.
Other green building publications such as Building Green and Environmental Design and Construction (ED+C) also provide CE hours through education sessions to their subscribers.
A. An ever-growing constituency that actively supports our mission and commitment to economic prosperity and human wellbeing in Western Pennsylvania is vital to keeping GBA in the forefront of the green building industry.
Supporting GBA through Membership provides valuable strength and inspiration to the organization. Member benefits range from event opportunities, networking and discounts on subscriptions. Click here to view more of member benefits and membership opportunities.
By becoming a Green Building Alliance Sponsor, you are helping our region maintain its green building leadership position! Additionally, you are proving your dedication to our residents' health, happiness and well being, while further advancing your company's sustainability goals. Each GBA sponsorship package provides your company with public recognition as a green building advocate and thought leader. Click here to view GBA’s list of available Sponsorship opportunities and benefits.
Emerging Professionals are the energetic and dynamic leaders of tomorrow’s green building movement. GBA's Emerging Professionals (EPs) group enables like-minded sustainability professionals to be a force for advancement within the GBA community by providing a forum for networking and education. Click here to view EPs events, activities and projects.
Volunteers are essential to aid in GBA in spreading the wealth of green building. If you are interested in volunteering for GBA events, tours or office work; would like to participate in the Green Building Products Network or Pittsburgh Climate Initiative; or want to join a committee such as Education, Green Schools, Public Policy, Laurel Highlands Branch or Northwest PA Branch please visit our Volunteer webpage.
GBA gives thanks to all the people who are interested in supporting us and our mission!