Green Building Research

This page last reviewed September 15, 2015

window retrofit photo As the second largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in California, the building sector offers great potential to reduce GHG emissions through the sustainable construction, operation, and renovation of new and existing buildings. California’s Climate Change Scoping Plan identifies several actions to reduce GHGs from the building sector, including progressively increasing the stringency of building codes and standards, pursuing voluntary efforts to go beyond code, and completing existing building retrofits. The Scoping Plan states that further research is needed to better quantify GHG reductions from non-energy aspects of green buildings. Comprehensive green building research will be useful in quantifying additional GHG emission reductions to meet our statewide goal of reducing 80% of GHG emissions below 1990 levels by 2050.

ARB’s green building research agenda is focused on reducing GHG emissions while also avoiding any increases to other criteria pollutants that may affect public health.

Complete Research Projects

Quantifying the Comprehensive Greenhouse Gas Co-Benefits of Green Buildings This research project created a database of certified commercial green buildings in California to better quantify the non-energy GHG reductions and co-benefits from water savings, solid waste reduction, and minimized transportation impacts.

Residential Energy Use and GHG Emissions Impacts of Compact Land Use Types The objective of this research was to 1) investigate the relationship between land use planning factors and residential energy use in California's various climate zones; and 2) develop a spreadsheet modeling tool that local governments can use when creating general plans, specific plans, and climate action plans to estimate the GHG emissions due to residential building energy use that will result from accommodating new growth in different land use and building types.

Measuring the Climate Impact of Residential Buildings: GreenPoint Rated Climate Calculator Version 2 The objectives of the study were to review, validate, and enhance existing methods in the GreenPoint Rated Climate Calculator Version 1, develop new methods to quantify additional GHG reductions, conduct field testing and obtain stakeholder input to finalize Version 2 of the climate calculator.

Behavioral Strategies to Bridge the Gap Between Potential and Actual Savings in Commercial Buildings This project evaluated existing commercial buildings using interviews, surveys, and participant observation to examine actual behavior practices that influence energy consumption in buildings.

Developing Databases to Estimate California-specific Climate Forcing Benefits of Cool Roofs This project developed California-specific information on building roofing stocks and the associated albedos, which is necessary for improved estimates of the climate benefits of increasing urban albedo through the widespread application of “cool” roofs and pavements.


Check out ARB's list of all active and completed research projects relating to green buildings.

Related Resources

Buildings and Indoor Air Quality Research An overview of ARB-sponsored research on indoor environmental quality and associated health impacts. Learn what individuals, businesses, and local governments can do to reduce their buildings’ carbon footprint, including information on building green for small businesses and local governments, and reducing your household building energy use.

For more information on ARB's Green Building Research, please contact Dana Papke Waters at (916) 324-9615.