According to the US Green Building Council (USGBC), buildings account for approximately 40% of the nation's total energy consumption, 14% of its water use, and 40% of emissions. At George Mason University, our buildings produce over 65% of our emissions and we spend close to $10 million a year for electricity alone. So reducing the consumption in Mason's buildings can have a positive impact on the environment and would allow the university to spend our funds on more important benefits and services for Mason's students, faculty, and staff members.
In 2007, Mason's Board of Visitors recognized the impact of buildings and pledged that the university would build all new construction to a higher environmental standard, specifically, the USGBC's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification level. The state of Virginia, in Executive Order 19 (2010), states that all new buildings shall meet the Virginia Energy Conservation and Environmental Standards for energy performance and water conservation. Mason's new buildings are built to these standards, and often exceed them. In addition, Mason is working on increasing the efficiencies of our existing buildings and incorporating these standards into our University Design Information Manual.
If you want to help Mason reduce the environmental impact of its buildings, you can help by making your office or department a Green Office. If you live on-campus, you can apply the methods mentioned in our Green Living Guide or click on the links on the right to find out more information on how to go green and join the movement. Did you know that a 2009 Booz Allen Hamilton report released by the USGBC said that green buildings in the Washington DC area will support or create 7.9 million jobs between 2009 and 2013 and will contribute $554 billion to the US's Gross Domestic Product? It's cool to be green.