Unless you are in the design or construction industry, you probably have no idea what LEED certification of a building means or why you would want to certify a building. You hear a lot of talk about eco-friendly and green products like flooring, furniture, clothes and cleaning products these days, but LEED is still growing roots in the consumer sector. In the simplest terms, the LEED certification process focuses on the design and construction of Green buildings.
What do the terms Green and Sustainability mean in regards to buildings? Building Green means to use less energy and resources, reuse and recycle materials, while also creating a healthier space to live or work. Building Sustainably means to promote social, economic and environmental progress that is good for everyone and for future generations. Besides the ecologically friendly and healthier pros to building a green, sustainable building; there are financial benefits as well. These benefits include reduced operating costs, increased building value, and increased return on investment, as well as increased occupancy and rent.
The LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system was developed to measure a building’s “greenness.” It is now the industry standard in construction and design for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. The LEED rating system for green buildings was launched in 2000. The developer of the LEED rating system is the U.S. Green Building Council. The U.S. Green Building Council or better known as USGBC, was formed in 1993.
To transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life.
LEED’s approach to building green is to use an integrated design process in which the building professionals involved can collaborate to create a cohesive and sustainable building. Even the LEED categories are designed so that synergistic opportunities can occur among the different categories. The following are six LEED categories that a building can earn points in order to meet green building standards:
- Sustainable sites
- Water efficiency
- Energy and atmosphere
- Materials and resources
- Indoor environmental quality
- Innovation in Design
The number of points a building earns determines its rating — Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum.
You can certify schools, hospitals, offices, retail spaces, operations/maintenance of buildings, homes and even neighborhoods. Design and construction under the parameters of the LEED rating system will take longer and will potentially cost more on the front end, but the long term savings and benefits far exceed the initial investment. It is a smarter way to build, which is why the design and building industry is moving in this direction. Some public and government buildings are now mandated to be LEED certified. It is also appealing to private companies as well as the residential home building market because of all the benefits associated with building green.For more information on Sustainable and Green Building visit: Usgbc.org Gbci.org
Layla S. Altman, ASID, LEEP AP ID+C is the co-owner of Posh, a design shop in Surfside Beach. She can be reached at 843-238-0078 Copyright 2012 by PoshSurfside.com