Going green is on everyone’s mind, and for the first time it’s a desire catered to by the construction industry. In fact, most leading companies and contractors within real estate and construction now aspire to LEED certification to advertise to the world that they’re in the business of limiting environmental impact.
LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Certification is the global favorite out of all green building rating systems. Developed by the USGBC—US Green Building Council—LEED is a central part of the non-profit organization which was created to encourage design professionals, architects and construction companies to be more aware and considerate of the environmental impact of the projects with which they work.
Almost 80,000 construction projects—32,500 of which are commercial—are LEED participants across over 150 countries. The program works by denoting how green a building is from its inception and during its lifespan. This includes rating its energy and water conservation, and the sustainability of materials used. And not just offices or homes can achieve LEED certification, in fact, different rating systems exist for homes, commercial buildings, interior renovations, schools, residential and community developments and many others.
Chipotle was one of the first fast-food restaurants to become LEED-certified and similarly Starbucks. Conservatories, hospitals, doghouses and animal hospitals have gained LEED certification. You might surprise yourself to find out even animal shelters have taken their prized place in the LEED hall of certification.
The LEED certification process enlists a point system which assesses the environmental values of a building and then places it in one of four brackets depending on how many points or credits it has tallied. A building could be placed in ‘certified’—40-49 credits, ‘silver’—50-59 credits, ‘gold’—60-79 credits or ‘platinum’—80 or more credits.
LEED focuses on nine main areas during the assessment:
- Regional Priority
- Design Innovation
- Education and Awareness
- Sustainable Sites
- Materials and Resources
- Indoor Environmental Quality
Regardless of the public kudos LEED certified buildings receive, buildings with an LEED certification gain serious advantages. According to the USGBC, LEED buildings more than likely qualify for a variety of incentives including tax rebates and zoning permits. They have quicker lease-up rates and maintain higher value themselves, and residential homes, in particular, sell faster at an increased price.
If you were to build your residential property you could claim a $2,000-dollar tax credit. And not to mention, the benefit of potentially saving money each year courtesy of your energy efficient LEED-certified home. LEED properties will reduce your energy and water consumption through mechanisms such as low-flow toilets and faucets, using HDPE partitions and many others.
As a construction firm deciding to build LEED projects will help you become recession proof—while there is the deflating real-estate bubble, there has been a 14 percent increase in the square footage of LEED certified properties. LEED buildings are more attractive to buyers, and facility owners are also attracted to the energy savings as well as the better indoor environment they create for end-user clients such as staff and guests.
To become LEED certified you should become more aware of the main tenets of a sustainable building including building smaller, using solar/biogas or geothermal energy, opt for sustainable materials such as straw and aluminum, enlist water conservation techniques and choose energy star windows. Programmable thermostats are also a major win these days in the eyes of LEED assessors.
So, how do you become LEED certified? There is typically a five step process.
- Be aware of deadlines! LEED rating systems can frequently change so educate yourself on the schedule
- Make sure to register! There is a flat fee for registration.
- Distinguish between the credits you want and don’t want to achieve based on the categories included in the list above.
- Your application will be reviewed.
- You will receive the LEED Institute’s decision, and you can accept or appeal it.
There are many benefits of having the LEED certification whether you are a building contractor, a company renting office space or you are building your own home. The advantages range from health to finances, to attracting a wider more promising client base. The process is simpler than most and extremely accessible to all types of applicants—including dog shelter owners—and the merits granted by the certification are more than meet the eye.
This is a guest post written by Megan Ray Nichols.
Megan Ray Nichols is a science writer and the editor of Schooled By Science. She enjoys discussing scientific discoveries and exploring the world around her. Follow her on twitter @nicholsrmegan