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Wanted: a global green standard for buildings

By Graham Norwood

Why is there no global environme-ntally friendly building standard? I ask because construction industry, in both the residential and particularly the commercial sector, is truly global – there are multinational teams and tenders attract overseas interest in almost every country on earth.

So why are those international construction teams not working to the same "green" standards?

The UK?has Breeam, the pompously-named Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method; the US Green Building Council has created Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (Leed) while in Australia there is Green Star, a voluntary rating system. The top French code – the Haute Qualite Environnementale – is also similar to Breeam but quite unlike Japan's Casbee system (standing for Comprehensive Assessment System for Building Environmental Efficiency) which is used across parts of Asia and diverges from most others by addressing unique regional issues, including earthquake resistance.

One additional variation making global comparisons difficult is that some national "eco" building codes are voluntary and others statutory. Likewise, some are conducted in-house by developers themselves while many others are conducted by independent assessors, some government-funded and some in the private sector. In other words, it's a muddle. Now if the issue was unimportant, or was of only national significance in some areas of the world, then a global standard would be "nice to have" but not strictly necessary.

However, a recent survey of builders showed that they almost universally recognised the need to reduce emissions in both their ways of working and the buildings they constructed.

So why can't everyone work to the same standard?

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