Green Buildings

1.    What is a green building?

2.    Why should we care about green buildings?

3.    Are green buildings expensive?

4.    What is the U.S. Green Building Council?

LEED Certification

5.    What is LEED Certification?

6.    Why should a building become LEED certified?

7.    Can any building be LEED certified?

Chapter Membership

8.    What are USGBC Chapters?

9.    What does the USGBC Massachusetts Chapter do?

10.  How can I get involved with the USGBC Massachusetts Chapter?

11.  What’s the difference between Chapter Membership and National Membership?

12.  Is my company a member of USGBC National?

13.  What do I do if I’m a member and I’m changing employers?

1.  What is a green building?

The term ‘green building’ refers to a type of structure that utilizes and demonstrates environmental stewardship and resource conservation throughout its entire lifespan, from construction, operations, maintenance, renovation to demolition. They use fewer resources, particularly energy and water, avail renewable energy sources, generate less waste and contribute to the community of which they are a part.

2.  Why should we care about green buildings?

Buildings in the United States account for over 70% of the country’s electricity consumption, nearly 40% of its energy use and close to 40% of all its greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Energy Information Administration. Additionally, the U.S. Environment Protection Agency estimates that people spend 90% of their time inside a building. Compared to standard buildings, green buildings have been shown by the U.S. General Services Administration to:

Lower maintenance costs by over 10%
Reduce energy use more than 25%
Lower greenhouse gas emissions by 33%
Significantly increase occupant satisfaction

3.  Are green buildings expensive?

LEED-certified buildings cost less to operate, reducing energy and water bills by as much as 40%. LEED certification increases property values and LEED buildings have faster lease-up rates and may qualify for a host of incentives like tax rebates and zoning allowances. Companies that incorporate green design, construction, and/or operation practices demonstrate a progressive approach to customer and clients that keeps them competitive. In the long term, the mechanical systems, materials, and structures in green buildings tend to exceed the lifespan of those in conventional buildings, which saves money on maintenance and upgrades.

4.  What is the U.S. Green Building Council?

The U.S. Green Building Council is a non-profit organization committed to a  prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.

5.  What is LEED certification?

The LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System is a voluntary, consensus-based standard to support and certify successful green building design, construction, and operations. LEED is a points based system where projects earn LEED points for satisfying specific green building criteria. There are six LEED credit categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation in Design. Projects must satisfy particular prerequisites and earn points in each category. The number of points a building receives determines the level of LEED certification. The four levels are Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Learn more and get certified.

6.  Why should a building become LEED certified?

LEED certification is recognized across the globe as the premier mark of achievement in green building. Receive a listing in the online LEED project directory, searched by thousands of people every week, and marketing support from USGBC’s in-house experts to maximize your achievements. Since LEED was launched, green building has become firmly established in the marketplace and flourished despite the economic recession.

7.  Can any building be LEED certified?

Any building can be LEED certified. LEED has several Rating Systems that encompass a wide variety of building types from offices to homes to whole neighborhoods. The Rating Systems are:

8.  What are USGBC Chapters?

Chapters are where you can get involved with USGBC as an individual. There are 77 USGBC Chapters nationwide. The chapter network promotes sustainable building, advocates for green-building policies and builds networks of allies where it matters most — in the local community. Chapter members raise awareness of LEED and green building practice through education, outreach and advocacy.

9.  What does the USGBC Massachusetts Chapter do?

The USGBC Massachusetts Chapter works throughout Massachusetts to foster a stronger and more connected group of industry participants, to enhance professional development opportunities, and to advocate at the at the state and local level for more green building friendly regulations and legislation.

10.  How can I get involved with USGBC Massachusetts?

There are many ways to get involved. Click here for more information.

11. What’s the difference between Chapter Membership and National Membership?

Individuals are members of chapters, while organizations are members of USGBC National.

Chapter membership allows any individual, regardless of whether or not their employer is a national member, to participate in the chapter and take advantage of local chapter benefits. It also allows individuals to get involved in their community and support local green building efforts. Chapter membership entitles you to discounts on Chapter-led workshops and events, but does not entitle members to discounts on USGBC publications.

USGBC National Membership is for corporations or organizations, and all full-time employees of national member companies may utilize their company’s national member benefits and are encouraged to join their local USGBC chapters at a discounted price.

Employees of USGBC National Member companies get discounts on USGBC and LEED® publications.

12. Is my company a member of USGBC National?

Check the USGBC National Member Directory.

If you don’t see your company, contact or call 1-800-795-1747 to clarify – USGBC National Membership is handled separately from local chapter membership.

13. What do I do if I’m a chapter member and I’m changing my employer?

Before you leave your old place of employment, log into your chapter membership account and edit or add your new email address. If you have already left your old employer, contact us at so we can edit your account info to keep you up to date with any news or updates from the Chapter. Don’t forgot to sign up for the monthly newsletter with your new email address.

Do you have a question about green building, LEED, or the U.S. Green Building Council that wasn’t answered here? Let us know at

Content adapted from U.S. Green Building Council, Green Building Alliance, USGBC Northern California, and USGBC Colorado.