Archive for the ‘LEED: Energy and Atmosphere’ Category

Your Building, Your Carbon & What You Can Do About It

Most people are familiar with the term Carbon Footprint but have you heard of Green Footstep?

Green Footstep is a free calculator developed by the Rocky Mountain Institute that gives design targets for carbon neutrality; net zero site energy and other goals. It reports your greenhouse gas emissions based on site development, construction and operation. Architects, engineers, developers and others can use this tool for new construction or renovation, for commercial or residential. The information provided by the calculator can be used for goal setting, decision making or as a tracking tool.

There are four major sources of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions related to building development:

  • development of site
  • embodied emissions from construction
  • operation of the building,
  • and transportation to and from the building.

Green Footstep only accounts for the first three. However, the Rocky Mountain Institute anticipates that subsequent versions will include the transportation aspect. Transportation can be the main contributor to GHG emissions for some developments, such as community colleges.

The Green Footstep calculator prompts you to answer basic questions regarding the location of your building, the local ecosystem and related building characteristics. You are then given a report on your building performance with regard to carbon emissions, from site development through operations. This is compared to a base case building. You can make revisions to items such as energy use intensity, on-site renewable energy and off-site carbon investments to determine how these will effect your emissions, allowing you to make the appropriate sustainable decisions. Rocky Mountain Institute’s concept behind Green Footstep is to make building stakeholders more aware of ecosystems and their limits, driving building stakeholders toward more aggressive project goals that address our current ecological challenges. This tool provides information relevant to assessments tools such as USGBC’s LEED, the Architecture 2030 Challenge and EPA’s Energy Star program. In order to answer Green Footstep’s question ‘Your building, your carbon and what you can do about it?’ go to and get started!

– Submitted by Barbara Anderson, a member of the USGBC-STL Advocacy Committee and an architect at AAIC.