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USGBC commends cities for innovation in green building

New York, San Francisco receive World Green Building Council’s Government Leadership Awards


New York has been a pioneer in transforming green building practices.

New York has been a pioneer in transforming green building practices.
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is pleased to announce New York and San Francisco as the recipients of the World Green Building Council’s Government Leadership Awards for Excellence in City Policy for Green Building. Announced today at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP-17) in Durban, South Africa, the awards acknowledge international best practice in city-level government policy for green building initiatives and recognize green buildings as an important means to reduce carbon emissions. Winners were chosen by an expert panel of judges comprised of ICLEI International, UN HABITAT and the WorldGBC.

“Buildings are responsible for approximately one-third of global carbon emissions and 40 percent of global energy usage, so the need for exemplary green building policies in the United States and throughout the world is great,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, USGBC, and chair- elect of the World Green Building Council. “New York and San Francisco are strong models for green building policy. The United States continues to be at the forefront of the green building movement thanks in part to these shining examples of leadership.”

San Francisco was honored with the Best Green Building Policy award for the San Francisco Green Building Ordinance, which requires all new commercial, residential and municipal construction to be built to the LEED green building program, and existing buildings to publicly disclose energy labels, undergo periodic energy audits and mandatory water efficiency retrofits at the time of sale. The impacts of building labeling and auditing alone are expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 105,000 tons and have a 10-year net present value of approximately $1 billion. The city has also created financing options to assist the private sector in meeting its efficiency targets.

New York City won the Industry Transformation Award for its Greener, Greater Buildings Plan (GGBP). The plan is a component of the broader PlaNYC sustainability plan that aims to reduce citywide carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2030. GGBP requires large, existing commercial buildings to publicly display annual energy and water benchmarks, audit and retro-commission every ten years, undergo cost- effective lighting and efficiency upgrades, and install meters and sub-meters in large tenant spaces. The plan is expected to reduce approximately 2.72 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, have a net savings of $7 billion by 2030, and create roughly 17,800 construction-related jobs over ten years.

“We are honored to receive the Industry Transformation Award and also recognize the numerous private- public partnerships that made the plan’s passage possible,” said David Bragdon, director, New York City Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. “The Greener, Greater Buildings Plan will transform the industry because it is the first policy of its kind to aggressively target energy efficiency in large, existing buildings. We hope that this plan can be a model for other cities to follow because of the substantial environmental, economical, and social impacts that are possible on a large scale.”

Other award recipients include Mexico City, Mexico; Birmingham, UK; Singapore; and Tokyo, Japan.

"Buildings represent unparalleled potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and cities play a critical role in seizing this opportunity,” said Jane Henley, CEO of the WorldGBC. “The Government Leadership Award entries demonstrate that all around the globe cities are implementing policies that are meeting immediate budget priorities while still addressing longer term emissions reduction goals. These cities are focusing on energy efficiency in the built environment to deliver a range of benefits, including operational savings, energy security, health and well-being to building occupants, and provide a much needed boost to the economy. We are pleased to recognize a select few for their drive and innovation."

Over 80 green building councils across the globe, along with ICLEI and UN-HABITAT network members were given the opportunity to nominate local government policies from their countries for the award. As governments and cities are implementing policies that support green building and communities, the WorldGBC and the Government Leadership Awards are recognizing cities making these initiatives and encouraging others to build green.

To find out more about the Government Leadership Awards and see all the nominations, please visit

About the Author

Marisa Long is the Communications Manager for the U.S. Green Building Council.


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