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USGBC: You Have Five Years to Go Net Positive

The LEED Positive vision now has a deadline: 2025.
Paula Melton
November 11, 2020

Forget net zero by 2030: it’s not enough, or soon enough, to stop catastrophic climate change.

That’s the message Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), had for attendees of Greenbuild 2020. Ramanujam instead set a more ambitious requirement: all new construction will have to achieve net-positive carbon and energy performance by 2025 in order to achieve LEED certification. Existing buildings will have to achieve these same goals by 2050.

“This is not aspirational; this is real,” wrote Ramanujam in a blog post on the USGBC website, saying that the next phase of this goal is for buildings to achieve LEED Zero.

Is the market ready for this?

It’s not as hard as it sounds, says Melissa Baker, senior vice president, technical core, at USGBC.

“I think the market is close,” Baker told LEEDuser. “If you break it down, it’s not as scary as it sounds. It’s going to take a few years to get that building built,” so it’s actually not much of a stretch compared with the green building community’s 2030 goals.

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Baker said the LEED Positive vision isn’t just about carbon, either. “I think that for LEED to continue to be LEED, we really need a health and wellness component,” she said, calling for “a mindset shift of it being a human right to have access to clean indoor air. Outdoor space is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity.” Water is also a vital part of the puzzle, she added.  

As LEED moves forward, USGBC is constantly asking where the market is and how LEED should position itself relative to that, Baker said. “Where do we need to be [in order] to be leading it but not necessarily bleeding edge?”

Date updated: 
Wednesday, November 11, 2020

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