LEED 2009 Focuses on Everyday`Human Impact’ of Sustainability

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Developers and facility owners are aware of their ability to make a building more sustainable – solar installation, timed lighting, metered water usage, to name a few. However, the price tag of “going green” can make someone stop and think twice.

That’s where LEED comes in. By adhering to the specifications in the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED initiative (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) building owners and operators can recoup investment in sustainability in the now and in the future. (For more information about LEED, visit www.usgbc.org.)

But, when the term LEED comes up, people think about the financial impact of making systems more efficient. The newest version of the program, LEED 2009 (also known as LEED V3), weights credits depending on their ability to impact environmental and human health concerns.

“LEED now awards more points for strategies that will have greater positive impacts on what matters most – energy efficiency and carbon emission reductions,” said Ashley Katz, manager of communications at the USGBC.

The concept of “going green’ is hardly a new one. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t want to be more environmentally friendly. However, “wanting” and “doing” are not always the same thing.

LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system that provides third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies that will improve performance in metrics such as energy savings, water efficiency, carbon emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. It is intended to provide a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. The system awards “credits” or “points” for these various initiatives.

LEED 2009 operates on a 100-point scale and every point counts toward LEED certification. The program is based on 13 environmental impact categories, including climate change, indoor environmental quality, resource depletion and water intake, among many others, Katz explained. Under LEED 2009, “the impact categories were prioritized, and credits were assigned a value based on how they contributed to mitigating each impact. The result revealed each credit’s portion of the big picture, giving the most value to credits that have the highest potential for making the biggest change.”

All of that being said, going green will cost you some green at the outset. Make sure you recoup that investment by monitoring your energy savings on a regular basis. Under LEED 2009, you can earn valuable credits for energy monitoring.

Article by Bari Faye Siegel, a technology writer and marketing consultant at Noveda Technologies.

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  1. Thanks for the post, Bari. What’s interesting is that much of the reason that green buildings cost more is the convention design-bid-build process is inefficient and doesn’t take into account the assets that, say, a mechanical engineer brings to a team early in the design process. LEED and green buildings that use an integrated approach may cost the same or even less than convention buildings, not including the savings of ongoing operations. We’ve been working with design and construction firms over the past two years to develop the SPI Certification program to make the integration of sustainability targets into business targets easier and more effective. Learn more at http://www.greenroundtable.org/certification and let me know what you think.

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