Sustainable Development Goals 101 | U.S. Green Building Council
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Learn how the SDGs align with the work of USGBC and GBCI, and how it can inform and inspire your own.

The Sustainable Development Goals are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations (U.N.) in September 2015 to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all by 2030. This year, USGBC will be publishing a series of articles sharing how our work, and that of GBCI, relates to these global targets.

What are the SDGs?

The 17 goals are inherently interrelated, but each has specific targets with corresponding, measurable indicators. For example, Goal 7, Affordable and Clean Energy, includes among its targets doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030. Energy intensity, measured in terms of primary energy and GDP, will serve as an indicator for this target.

Other targets are sober reminders of global conditions from which we are sometimes sheltered in the U.S.; for example, access to adequate sanitation for all is a target under Goal 6, Clean Water and Sanitation.

Unlike the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals, which the SDGs replaced in 2015, the SDGs have a framework that does not distinguish between “developed” and “developing” nations. Rather, the goals apply to all countries.

U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

Who are the SDGs for?

Meeting the targets and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals represents an ambitious undertaking, so the U.N. and its member states are calling on governments of all sizes, as well as the private sector, civil society and the general public to contribute to the mission, both individually and collaboratively.

According to a PwC survey, a large proportion of businesses around the world plan to integrate the SDGs into their planning by 2020.

  • Awareness: 92 percent of businesses surveyed are aware of the SDGs, compared to 33 percent of citizens.
  • Action: 71 percent of businesses are planning how to respond to the SDGs.

USGBC and the SDGs

USGBC is proud to support global efforts toward achieving elements of these important goals. Our suite of rating systems, our Arc platform, Education @USGBC, advocacy, our Greenbuild events and our partnerships support our members and the green building community to bring about truly sustainable development.