by Ryan M. Kolker, via Institute for Market Transformation
Buildings serve as the cornerstone of the nation’s economy. Citizens depend on them for housing, businesses operate in them, and children learn in them. They represent more than half of the nation’s wealth. New construction and renovation activity amounts to over $800 billion annually. The sector employs over 10 million people (five percent of total U.S. employment) and is responsible for 13 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Beyond the economic impact of buildings, building owners and occupants and government agencies look to them to provide numerous services. From protection from man-made and natural hazards and maintenance of occupant comfort to accessibility and sustainability, buildings provide many benefits to society.
The U.S. Congress recognized these diverse needs in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 where they defined high-performance buildings as those that integrate and optimize on a life cycle basis of all major high performance attributes, including: energy conservation, environment, safety, security, durability, accessibility, cost-benefit, productivity, sustainability, functionality, and operational considerations.
However, given the broad and far-reaching impacts of buildings, no national buildings policy exists. Programs are scattered across numerous agencies often with little to no coordination. Recently, the ...