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Local Governments Take The Lead On Green Building

Green-housing advocates and developers are quick to say progress in green building is being made at the state and local levels, driven by rising energy prices and concerns about climate change. And this week, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom signed into law what’s being considered the "nation’s most aggressive green-building legislation."

The ordinance requires new commercial buildings larger than 5,000 square feet and residential buildings higher than 75 feet to acquire LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications. LEED is the most widely used green rating system for buildings in the United States. San Francisco’s new law also requires renovations on buildings larger than 25,000 square feet to meet LEED standards.

Buildings account for 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. Green Building Council — the organization behind the LEED rating system.

The number of cities and counties enacting green building policies has increased three-fold in the last four years, according to USA Today. A record number of 14 states approved such policies last year; eight more states have done so this year. In 2008, six states enacted laws to require state buildings to meet LEED standards, and more than a dozen cities and counties followed suit.

Mayor Newsom told USA Today that action needs to come from local and state governments. He said: "It requires a mandate in order to get people to do what’s in their best interests sometimes."

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