The other day, a coworker of mine sent out an email asking for help. You see, his high school-aged son was given a writing assignment: the subject -- What impact has the U.S. Green Buildings Council (USGBC) had on the American public. At first blush, I thought this was just a kid strong-arming his dad into finding someone to do his homework for him.
But then a light bulb went off in my head (ouch!). I realized that this was a question being asked in a public high school.
I think that is amazing.
Why? How many examples of what we do for a living in the HVACR Industry ever see the light of day in your average non-technical high school? My kids never were asked to write a paper on this or any other HVACR-related topics and my youngest son only graduated from high school last year. The fact that teachers are giving writing assignments with this as the topic tells me the USGBC has already made a big impact on the American public.
Interestingly enough, the same day my co-worker asked this question, a tweet crossed my digital blogsphere on a similar topic. That tweet came from the Nashville Ledger newspaper, which had published the following article: "Savvy Buyers Now Expect LEED Certified Homes." Their opening sentence said, "When it comes to new houses, green is the new granite." The article goes on to talk about how green building practices are becoming must-have amenities and not just in high-end homes. Even organizations like Habitat for Humanity are building to meet or exceed LEED certification, the article says. They actually have plans to build 40+ such homes in 2012.
Just in case you don't know, the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications were developed by the USGBC in 2000 through an open, consensus-based process led by LEED committees. In fact, these committees meet periodically to fine tune the LEED criteria and the next major update is this year. Changes are currently open for comment from USGBC members in good standing. Click here to learn more about this.
Though the USGBC and its LEED certifications began life in the commercial marketplace, the move into residential is fully underway. So to answer the question about the impact that USGBC has had on the American public, I'd have to say it is huge and ongoing.
Keep in mind, this program is not just something happening in the United States. There are other similar programs around the world. This movement impacts all the channels in the HVACR industry, including you, the HVACR contractor. The "Green" movement, as I've said before, is here to stay and it will continue to change the way build our homes and offices, as well as how we live and work.