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Press Room:  For Immediate Release 
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet

November 12, 2009

Glen Brand, Sierra Club, 207-272-0484
Ashley Katz, USGBC, 202-742-3738

Partnership Highlights Municipal & County Leadership in Energy-Efficiency

PHOENIX­­-The Sierra Club’s Cool Cities program and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) today announced the launch of the Green Buildings for Cool Cities collaboration.  The partnership will leverage Cool Cities’ more than 200 local campaigns and USGBC’s national network of 78 chapters to encourage new and retrofitted energy-efficient buildings, a key solution to global warming and to achieving the transition to a clean energy economy.

At a news conference at USGBC’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Phoenix, the organizations released a step-by-step green building policy guide for communities of all sizes.  The recommended policies range from basic to more advanced plans of action to address energy-efficiency and environmental sustainability through the built environment.

Highlighted policies include leadership standards for government buildings that serve as models for the community; financial and no-cost incentives to build green for the commercial and residential sectors; and improved minimum efficiency standards through energy code adoption and enforcement.  The Green Buildings for Cool Cities policy guide is available online at and

"Because buildings contribute nearly 40% of global warming emissions and consume over 70% of electricity use in the United States, increasing the energy performance of our homes and businesses is a cost-effective clean energy solution to global warming, and an enormous opportunity for rebuilding our economy," said Glen Brand, Sierra Club’s Cool Cities Program Director.

"Local governments have long been laboratories of innovation when it comes to energy-efficiency, proving by example that sustainable building practices can be effectively brought to scale. USGBC is pleased to join forces with the Sierra Club to engage our network of green building practitioners on this important campaign," said Roger Platt, USGBC’s Senior Vice President for Global Policy and Law.

Some of the communities whose policies are mentioned in the policy guide as models include: small cities such as Greensburg, KS, Clayton, MO, and Doylestown Borough, PA; medium size cities such as Kearny, NJ, Portsmouth, NH, and Asheville, NC; and larger cities such as Anchorage, New Orleans, Boston, Los Angeles, and El Paso.  In addition, the green building policies of several counties are highlighted, including Chatham County, GA, Montgomery County, MD, and Sonoma County, CA.

Green buildings efficiently use energy, water, and other natural resources, protect the health of occupants, improve employee productivity, and reduce pollution. Compared to new structures built to standard construction methods, green buildings can reduce energy consumption by 26% and greenhouse gas emissions by 33%. 

Investments in green buildings pay dividends, on average resulting in 6.6% improvement on return on investment, 8% reduction in operating costs, and a 7.5% increase in building value.  Improving the energy performance in existing buildings can reduce energy use by as much as 30% or 40%, with the ability to earn back those investments through lower utility bills over time.

Green building will support 7.9 million U.S. jobs and pump $554 billion into the American economy--including $396 billion in wages--over the next four years (2009-2013), according to a 2009 study by the USGBC and Booz Allen Hamilton.

LEED is the internationally recognized green building certification system developed by the USGBC.  LEED provides third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, stewardship of natural resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

In recent years, thousands of buildings in the United States have achieved LEED certification.  As of October 2009, more than 200 localities across the U.S. are recognizing LEED as an effective tool for benchmarking the performance of their green building policies, and 2,995 local government projects are currently pursuing LEED certification.

For more information on the Green Buildings for Cool Cities project, see   and

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