Is there real progress toward reducing GHG emissions in the home building sector?

Feb. 14, 2013 | by Tamarah Long

Are homeowners today becoming more “green” in their habits due to necessity?

According to Ed Mazria of, “ We know the urban built environment produces 70 percent of the global GHG emissions driving this climate crisis.”

This organization and others aim to change this ominous statistic by issuing focused and performance based challenges to designers, builders, manufacturers, and homeowners.

However, with only 32,983 LEED certified homes built in the U.S. (USGBC website - Jan 2013) there are more questions than answers regarding Americans' willingness to do their part in helping to reduce GHG emissions.

 The necessity to build smaller homes in the US has historically been an urban condition.

According to Sim Van der Ryn, founder of, “Our greatest liability in this country is our suburbs.”  Mr. Van der Ryn has seen some discouraging trends over the more than fifty years he has been examining these issues. His point of view is that building smaller homes, working to change building codes, and focusing on resource efficient communities is critical.

A generation ago, the average homeowner was significantly less aware of their carbon footprint. But even with education about climate change, it may be that Americans are not truly ready to make the cultural shift towards carbon neutral. As a result, perhaps only the lack of cheap energy will motivate us to change.

Topics: Certification / LEED , Sustainability Trends & Statistics , Sustainable Communities

Companies: U.S. Green Building Council

Tamarah Long / Tamarah Long is a Registered Architect (WA state) who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Design of the Environment. She received her Master’s of Architecture from the University of Florida and was a building design professional for more than ten years. Tamarah was also an Assistant Director at NCARB before joining the Architecture and Planning faculty at the University of Colorado from 2006-2012. Ms. Long currently is researching sustainable design strategies.
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