Green Building and Climate Resilience: Understanding Impacts and preparing for Changing Conditions

February 2011

A review of climate-related vulnerabilities at the regional level, and prioritization of design, construction, and operation strategies to increase resilience and facilitate climate adaptation.

The majority of efforts to address climate change through green building are focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This is reflected in the current U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. The LEED system allocates over 25 percent of available points for reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with building systems, transportation, water, waste, and construction materials (U.S. Green Building Council, 2008). By definition, greenhouse gas emission reductions are climate change mitigation. If we hope to shape the built environment to be both responsive and resilient to future climate extremes, green building criteria will include both climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. However, LEED does not currently require climate change adaptation strategies to achieve certification. This report summarizes current technical and scientific data on the impacts of climate change on the built environment. This information is designed to support the work of building professionals in this emerging area of concern and to inform the selection of strategies and approaches to LEED certification. Within this document, we identify climate-related vulnerabilities at the regional level and prioritize design, construction, and operation strategies to increase resilience and facilitate climate adaptation.