Looks like America has a new contender for “Greenest City” – at least when it comes to green buildings – and it’s probably not where you’d expect.
Dallas, Texas implemented mandatory minimum green building regulations on October 1st in an aggressive effort to cut citywide power and water consumption en route to its goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.
The regulations are the final step in a five-year implementation of the Dallas Green Building Construction Ordinance, cover all new residential and commercial buildings, and create a comprehensive green building standard across the city.
Green Building Tackles Energy, Water, Building Waste
All new construction projects proposed in Dallas must now meet minimum certification requirements from one of three established standards: Green Built Texas, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), or the International Green Construction Code (IgCC).
Since drought is such an important issue in Texas, the new regulations focus on water preservation – especially when it comes to single-family homes. At least 70% of the built area for homes (excluding areas under a roof) must be permeable or capture water runoff, homes must use drip irrigation for bedding areas of landscaping, and must include high-efficiency fixtures.
Commercial buildings are also expected to do their part, with a 20% water use reduction goal, restrictions on outdoor lighting to prevent light pollution, and cool roof or green roofs requirement to cut urban heat island effects.
The construction process is also getting a lot greener with requirements to divert a 50% minimum percentage of waste material is from landfills as well as source 45% of building components from recycled, recyclable, bio-based, or local materials. In addition, developers will have to attend training classes and pass a certification exam to receive green builder certification.
While the new regulations may be comprehensive, green buildings aren’t new to Dallas. The city is already home to over 140 LEED-certified buildings, including 23 LEED-certified municipal government facilities, has 59 million square feet of Energy Star-certified buildings, and Texas placed second with over 36 million square feet of LEED-certified buildings in the US Green Building Council’s 2012 state rankings.
Green Business Too?
But even though green building will help improve Dallas’ environment, the new regulations could also help boost the regional economy. Green building is expected to top $248 billion in revenue nationwide by 2016, and the green home-building market could be worth $114 billion by 2016.
Considering Texas now has the third-largest concentration of LEED professionals in America and building asset values rise when builders make sustainable investments, Dallas’ green building mandate isn’t just an environmentally friendly move – it might just be an incredibly savvy green business push, too.