The governance requires all municipally owned or occupied new construction and renovation projects over 5,000 square feet with a total construction cost of over $250,000, and all new city-funded private construction and renovation projects over 10,000 square feet with a total construction cost of $250,000, be certified to the LEED Silver Standard and achieve the minimum LEED Optimize Energy Performance points necessary to meet the targets of the Architecture 2030 Challenge.

The 2030 Challenge:

The 2030 Challenge asks the global architecture and construction community to adopt greenhouse gas reduction targets for new and renovated buildings. Incremental goals are set for reduction with the final goal being to achieve carbon neutrality for all new buildings by 2030. The 2030 Challenge organization provides a LEED rating system point equivalent.

The climate is changing faster now than any time in the past 500,000 years. The public wants change — is demanding change — and cities must take the lead to make it happen, stated Mayor Jill Duson. Since buildings are the single largest contributor to carbon emissions to the earth’s atmosphere, it makes sense for us to reach our carbon reduction goals by targeting buildings.

Portland was the first city to sign on to the Governor’s Carbon Challenge during Duson’s first term as Mayor. Duson, along with fellow councilors David Marshall (Chair) and Dory Waxman, serves on the Council’s Energy and Environmental Sustainability Committee, which crafted the ordinance with city staff.

Since signing its Climate Action Plan in 2008, Portland has taken a number of steps to meet its climate change goals. The plan states that 59% of the greenhouse gases emitted by city operations are from buildings with another 25% emitted from water and sewer operations. Beyond cost and environmental benefits, green buildings are healthier for people, use water more efficiently, aid storm-water management and are built with materials that promote savings, efficiencies and sustainability.

The USGBC has developed the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating SystemT. It is a voluntary, nationally recognized, and third-party verified green building standard. LEED can be applied to all types of buildings, public and private, and has four progressive levels of certification: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

LEED certified commercial and institutional buildings use an average of 32% less electricity, 26% less natural gas and 36% less total energy than standard buildings. They also use 40% less water and construction that results in 70% less solid waste, further reducing emissions over traditional construction and operation. Research shows that there is no significant difference in average cost for green buildings as compared to non-green buildings. Upfront cost increases for green buildings range from 0 to 4% and lower the expected lifetime operating costs by 20%.

The ordinance is the result of nearly a year of collaboration with many stakeholders, including the Maine Chapter of the USGBC.

Naomi Mermin, the Maine Chapter Board Chair, said This ordinance is a gold mine of savings for the city and taxpayers, both in terms of energy costs and staff resources in the short-term and environmental performance for the long-term. In the U.S. alone, buildings account for 40% of energy use. I’m pleased to see the City of Portland bring together smart design, planning, materials, and construction so municipal buildings can actually become dependably energy-saving, health-saving and money-saving places to live and work.

Avesta Housing has adopted green building guidelines because it is the ‘responsible’ way to do development and applauds Portland’s similar goals, stated Avesta Housing President Dana Totman.

About USGBC and the Maine Chapter

The USGBC puts the LEED label on green buildings. It is a nonprofit membership organization whose vision is a sustainable built environment within a generation. Its membership includes corporations, professionals, universities, government agencies, and other nonprofit organizations. Thousands of USGBC members representing all segments of the building industry developed LEED, and they continue to drive its evolution.