Green and LEED Building: The Facts

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LEEDAs the world becomes more and more environmentally aware, several industries are increasing their focus on improving their ‘green’ factor, including the construction sector. LEED is helping to lead the way.

What is LEED?

LEED – or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design as its full name goes – provides third-party verification for buildings that are focused on being ‘green’. Essentially, the new projects have to satisfy pre-requisites and earn points to achieve the different levels of certification.

Where is LEED used?

The rating systems focus on a wide variety of different project types, such as core & shell, schools, retail, healthcare, commercial interiors and homes as well as both new constructions and major renovations. Essentially, there’s no area of construction that LEED can’t be applied to.

How does LEED work?

LEED works by providing genuine, independent third-party verification that a particular home, building or community was designed and then built using specific strategies designed to help them reach high standards and performance in the key areas of both human and environmental health. These strategies are focused on things like saving water, increasing energy efficiency, using sustainable materials and ensuring the site itself is naturally sustainable through use of generators and other systems.

Each category within the LEEDs rating system comprises of credits and pre-requisites, the latter of which are specific elements that are a non-negotiable inclusion within any project looking to obtain certification. Credits meanwhile, are optional ways to further ensure a site’s certification. They are, of course, recommended.

What are the specific categories?

The specific categories within an LEED rating system are:

-Sustainable sites credits, which encourage the use of systems that minimize impact on ecosystems and water resources.

-Water efficiency credits, which are designed to promote more intelligent uses of water within the site, with the aim of reducing consumption.

-Energy and atmosphere credits, which are designed to achieve innovation in increasing energy performance whilst decreasing actual usage, whether it be through generators or any other means.

-Materials and resources credits, which are designed to encourage both the reduction of waste as well as the use of sustainable building materials.

-Indoor environmental quality credits, which promote the increase in quality of the indoor air, as well as the increased access to both views and daylight.

What does LEED offer, apart from points and credits?

Behind LEED is a substantial infrastructure designed to consistently re-invest in itself to ensure that it becomes more and more effective each year. Last year alone, the USGBC invested $30 million in order to improve performance.

How can a project obtain LEED certification?

Initially, it all starts with registering the project. Once this is done, the project manager can then access the customer care and resources that LEED provides. These include the LEED Online system, which is designed to help document the achievement of each credit, the professional infrastructure (supported by over 185,000 industry professional credential holders) and the customer service system, which provides access to account managers, representatives from the business development team and subject matter experts from the LEED department at the USGBC.

Article by Amanda Walters. Follow Amanda on Twitter: @Amanda_W84

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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