Buildings account for 40 percent of all energy consumption and about one-third of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and European Union. While the Passivhaus Institut has been a relative hit with Europeans, counting tens of thousands of certified residential and commercial structures concentrated in Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Scandinavia, the United States has a couple dozen, most single-family houses certified under the system’s U.S. counterpart, the Passive House Institute. That said, the United States reigns as the country with the most square footage of LEED-certified space—by nearly a factor of 10 to the second-place finisher, China—according to the U.S. Green Building Council.
Aside from these global certification programs, plenty of ambitious green-design initiatives exist at the local level, with considerable help from private organizations. We round up a few here.