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They might shy away from being labeled “tree-huggers,” but many developers in urban areas across the United States are finding that building green is a trend they can wrap their arms around.

What makes a building “green”?

The New York Times reported yesterday that at least six buildings have opened as apartments in the last three years that fit the following description:

The green designation is conferred on buildings that incorporate recycled or renewable materials and that slash energy use and water consumption with features like photovoltaic cells, internal sewage treatment systems and roofs covered in soil and vegetation.

Renewable materials used in the buildings include plantation-grown woods for floors like Brazilian cherry or Caribbean walnut, reported USA Today in its recent story on the green-building trend.

The use of non-toxic paints, natural cleaning products and air-filtering systems let residents of the buildings breathe easier.

As one resident told the NY Times:

“You don’t have fumes everywhere from when they clean the carpets or paint an apartment”…

The United States Green Building Council has a rating system called LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. To install or use enough features to get a gold LEED rating (the highest is platinum), developers say they spend about 6 to 8 percent more on their projects, reported the NY Times.

These sorts of developments have gained popularity in several metropolitan areas across the country in addition to New York City, including Portland, Ore.; Pasadena, Calif.; Milwaukee; Austin, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; Boise, Idaho; and Seattle and Spokane, Wash., reports USA Today.

KELLY BENNETT

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