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Frequently Asked Questions

What is green building?

Green, or sustainable, building focuses on increasing efficiency while reducing building impacts on human health and the environment during the building’s lifecycle, through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance and demolition.

Green buildings are designed to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment by:

  • Efficiently using energy, water, and other resources
  • Protecting occupant health and improving employee productivity
  • Reducing waste, pollution, and environmental degradation

Why build green?

With more than 15.4 million gross square feet of buildings on the Main campus, The University of Texas at Austin typically has over $50 million of renovations in the design and construction pipeline in any given quarter. Together, we can work to ensure that new projects are developed with sensitivity to the health and well-being of the occupants, the campus community and the environment.

  • In the U.S., buildings account for:
    • 72% of the electricity consumed
    • 40% of the primary energy used
    • 39% of CO2 emissions
    • 30% of raw materials used
    • 30% of waste output
    • 13.6% of potable water consumption
  • Green Buildings can reduce:
    • Energy use by 24-50%
    • CO2 emissions by 33-39%
    • Potable water use by 40%
    • Solid waste by 70%
  • Studies have shown that green buildings can:
    • Reduce respiratory illness and allergies
    • Reduce employee absenteeism
    • Improve worker performance due to greater thermal and visual comfort
    • Improve student test scores

What is LEED?

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a program administered by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) offering a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing building performance in five key areas of human and environmental health. Buildings and neighborhoods may be certified under nine different rating systems (including New Construction, Existing Buildings, etc.) and may achieve one of four tiers of recognition: Certified, Gold, Silver, or Platinum.

LEED also provides accreditation for professionals, giving building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance.

How can I become a LEED Professional?

Professional LEED accreditation is managed by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). The GBCI now offers three tiers of credentials for professionals and students involved in the field of sustainability: LEED Green Associate, LEED Accredited Professional (LEED-AP), and LEED Fellow.

  • The LEED Green Associate credential denotes basic knowledge of green design, construction, and operations.
  • The LEED-AP credential attests to specialization in a specific rating system. The LEED-AP exam is comprised of two parts; the first part is the LEED Green Associate exam and the second is the specialty exam. One does not need to take the Green Associate exam before applying to take the LEED-AP exam.
  • Still under development, LEED Fellow is the highest tier and will offer recognition to leaders who contribute to the standards of practice and body of knowledge in the green building field.

Information about LEED accreditation in the three tiers above can be found at the GBCI website.

Where can I learn more?

For more information, visit our links page for additional resources, or contact PMCS at 512-471-3042.

Green Building Quick Facts

  • Americans spend an average of 90 percent of their time indoors. (EPA 2005)
  • Increasing building ventilation can carry an annual ROI of 600% for energy related costs. (ASHRAE)
  • Day lighting in classrooms raises student test score by 17%. (Heschong Mahone Group 2000)
  • 55,000,000 students + 5,000,000 teachers = 20% of United States population
  • Green school buildings = 3% increase in student productivity, learning and performance and -3 % decrease in teacher turnover. (USGBC 2008)
  • Lighting in buildings accounts for 23%, or 716 trillion Btu, of electricity consumption in U.S. commercial buildings. (US Energy Information Administration, 1999)
  • Building occupants use 40% less lighting energy when given convenient individual control of lights. (UC Berkley’s Center for the Built Environment, 2002)
  • A well-designed day lit building is estimated to reduce energy use by 50 to 80%. (Abraham, Loren 1996)
  • Job satisfaction and work attitudes are significantly related to the presence of windows in the workplace. (Finnegan, M.C. and L.A. Solomon. “Work attitudes in Windowed vs. Windowless Environments.” Journal of Social Psychology 115. 1981)
  • Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 trees and 3 cubic yards of landfill space. (USGBC 2008)
  • Green buildings with LEED Certified Indoor environmental quality measures saw a reduction of 18 to 25% in allergies and asthma in building users. (Fisk, William. “Health and Productivity Gains from Better Indoor Environments and Their Relationship with Build Energy Efficiency. 2000)
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