Courtesy Nic Lehoux Bullitt Center conference room looking out to Seattle

Courtesy Nic Lehoux Bullitt Center conference room looking out to Seattle

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.