A thriving, sustainable future depends in large measure on our built environment. According to the World Health Organization, in 1960 only 34 percent of the global human population lived in cities. In 2014 the urban population had swelled to 54 percent, while the total population grew from a little more than 3 billion people to more than 7 billion today. The latest population projections from the United Nations estimates humanity will reach the milestone of 8 billion inhabitants by 2024, most of whom will live in urban areas.
Most of this development is taking place in the developing world, but urban populations are growing worldwide. Consumption patterns in the developed world remain the driving force in resource depletion, energy use, waste and carbon emissions.
Global urban development is a key factor for sustaining future growth in the coming decades. In many ways, cities are the nexus between meeting the needs of a growing population and adapting to the realities of planetary boundaries. It starts at the granular level with how we build and renovate the buildings in which we live, work and play.
In the United States, the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is the standard for best practices and certification in building construction. LEED certification is not only transforming how buildings and communities are designed, built and maintained in the United States, it serves as a global model for sustainable development.
The following infographic illustrates how LEED is changing the face of construction and sustainable development in the U.S. and across the world.
Featured image credit: Pam Broviak, courtesy flickr