All new buildings should be "green" — built with environmentally friendly designs — if the United States is to lower greenhouse gas emission, according to testimony given Thursday by Michelle Moore, senior vice president of the Washington-based U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) before the Congressional Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome and actor Ed Norton, who is a trustee for the Columbia, Md.-based Enterprise Foundation, an affordable housing advocacy group, testified alongside Moore.

Moore also spoke about the need to retrofit existing buildings, especially schools, with energy-saving modifications, and the role of USGBC's LEED Green Building certification program in lowering energy consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide. "Buildings are the single largest contributor to carbon dioxide emissions, accounting for 39 percent of emissions in the U.S.," she said in her testimony. "Buildings offer an immediate, measurable solution for mitigating climate change, and we don't have time to wait."

Twenty-eight states and more than 120 cities have implemented policies requiring that new government buildings meet LEED standards or have created incentives for green building in the private sector, according to USGBC. More information on LEED and USGBC is available at http://www.usgbc.org/.