May 15, 2008 (Washington, DC) – The USGBC testified yesterday before the U.S. Congress about the importance of green buildings as a solution for global climate change, one of the biggest challenges facing society today.

Michelle Moore, senior vice president, policy and public affairs for USGBC, spoke before Chairman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, and detailed the impact of the built environment on the natural environment, economy and health and productivity of building users. Moore’s testimony stressed the importance of green building practices not only in new construction but through smart retrofit of existing building stock, with a focus on schools, and the role that the LEED green building certification program plays in driving the reduction of energy consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

“Buildings are the single largest contributor to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, accounting for 39% of emissions in the U.S. Of those buildings, school buildings represent the largest construction sector in the country and 20% of America goes to school every day,” said Moore.

“It’s fundamental to promote the design and construction of green schools, which play a tremendous role in bettering the health and performance of our students and children. Every new building coming out of the ground today should be built green and every existing building should be retrofitted, whether it is an office building, a school or your own home. Buildings offer an immediate, measureable solution for mitigating climate change - and we don’t have time to wait. ”

Moore joined actor Ed Norton and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom at the Select Committee Hearing. Norton is a Trustee for the Enterprise Foundation, USGBC’s partner to promote green affordable housing within the LEED for Homes Rating System.

Governments at all levels have been highly influential in the growth of green building, both by requiring LEED for their own buildings and by creating incentives for LEED for the private sector. Currently, 12 federal agencies or departments, 28 states, 120+ local governments, 12 public school jurisdictions and 36 higher education institutions have made policy commitments to use or encourage LEED.