If you’ve been trying to live a greener life and reduce your carbon footprint, you’ve likely heard about the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. The goal of the organization is to have a set of standards that constitute a building being classified as “green.” Otherwise, any business or individual could simply call their building green without any modifications to truly make it so. LEED certification means that the building has met some very specific standards in being environmentally friendly.
How certification and rankings got started
The trend of new technology and improvements to building efficiency started the green building trend. For designers, developers, architects and construction engineers to work better, there was a real need for better understanding of what a green building actually is.
Because LEED is a standard in green building, more and more businesses look for this certification when purchasing new real estate. To gain LEED certification, every aspect of the building is looked at, including the materials used in construction. Some of the elements looked at when deciding on LEED ranking include:
- Erosion and sedimentation control: Is there alternative transportation available and a place for bike storage? How is storm water managed? How is the roof set up? Ideally, the roof should help prevent heat loss as much as possible.
- Water efficiency: Is the landscaping made to reduce water usage? Are there any cutting-edge wastewater technologies used? Is there an attempt to reduce water usage? To obtain LEED certification, the building must reduce water usage.
- Energy and atmosphere: What is the energy performance of different systems in the building? What is the impact on ozone depletion? Is renewable energy used — solar, etc.? How does the overall building impact the environment and neighborhood around it?
- Materials and resources: Are materials manufactured locally? Are materials used that are rapidly renewable, such as bamboo? Is the lumber used certified? LEED has cracked down recently on the type of lumber used in buildings.
- Indoor environmental quality: Is carbon dioxide monitored? Are paints, carpets and other materials low-emitting? How much natural lighting is used?
- Innovation and design process: Is an LEED-accredited person on the project offering assistance and advice? How innovative is the design from a green perspective? For example, copper fasteners are an eco-friendly solution for your roof.
As you can see, there are a lot of factors that go into figuring out if a building should be LEED accredited. The process is not an easy one, but it is worth it.
How LEED certification helps the environment
There are many reasons for your business to go green. One of them is that green buildings tend to be more attractive to tenants. They also have a lease rate up to 20% higher than average. Businesses that go green improve their image and outperform the competition. Many consumers look for businesses that are green when deciding who to do business with.
LEED ranking factors help the environment by encouraging businesses to look at all aspects of the impact the building has on the eco-system around that building. Not only does LEED certification looks at the actual building and how green it is, but at the building process itself and the impact on the environment, local flora and fauna, and even how the indoor environmental quality will impact those who eventually work in that building.
LEED certification proves that a building is green. It holds you accountable to make sure you are doing absolutely everything you can to keep your business eco-friendly.
This is a guest post written by Megan Ray Nichols.
Megan Ray Nichols is passionate about environmental issues. She is the editor of Schooled by Science, a blog dedicated to breaking down complex scientific topics into understandable pieces. Now that you’ve learned more LEED certification, you might be interested to learn more about climate change.