North American innovation in green building and sustainable cities
This is an excerpt of a piece co-written by World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the US Green Building Council (USGBC), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for the Guardian.
Many cities in the US and Canada are seizing the opportunity to channel resourcefulness and creativity into making buildings more sustainable
As the world prepares for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to be held between 20 - 22 June in Rio de Janiero and popularly known as Rio+20, cities from Austin to Toronto are demonstrating that a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient green economy is a major opportunity for the countries and communities of North America.
According to estimates by the US Energy Information Administration, the building sector in the US accounts for over 70% of electricity consumption, close to 40% of energy use, 40% of raw material use, almost a third of waste generation, and 14% of potable water consumption. The United Nations Population Division estimates that by mid-century nearly 88% of Canadians and 90% of Americans will live in urban areas.
In a world of multiple challenges, ranging from increasingly scarce natural resources and climate change to economic competitiveness and the need to generate jobs, greening cities offers multiple opportunities for both smarter development and improved quality of life.
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