The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) created the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program in order to provide standards for green building and renovations. LEED is an open process that is completed handled by a third party that functions independently from other organizations, ensuring that it maintains its reputation as a verifiable, reliable, excellent method of measuring a building’s green features.
There are four levels of LEED certification (There are 100 possible points when you have your building inspection done):
- Certified – A point score of between 40 and 49 points.
- Silver – A point score of between 50 and 59 points.
- Gold – A point score of between 60 and 69 points
- Platinum – A point score that exceeds 80 points.
There are eight different categories for LEED, and each category has different qualifying factors:
- New Construction
- Existing Buildings
- Commercial Interiors
- Core and Shell
- Neighborhood Developments
Once you determine which category your building falls into, you can take a look at the criteria for earning a LEED Platinum certification. For example, the New Construction Rating System has seven general categories to define what makes a building green: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, innovation in design and regional priority. In the sustainable site category there are 26 possible points. You can get points for providing bicycle storage and showers or get points for reducing the heat island effect. In the water efficiency category, there are 10 possible points. You can get points for efficient landscaping and irrigation or for water use reduction. In the energy and atmosphere category there are 35 possible points, and you can rack the points up by incorporating on-site renewable energy systems or using green power from other sources. The materials and resources category offers 14 possible points, and you can get the points for reusing materials, managing construction waste (which means that you do something with your waste besides throw it in a landfill), using materials with recycled content or using regional materials. The indoor environment quality category offers 15 possible points, and there are dozens of ways to get those points; like using low-emitting adhesives, paints and products or using daylight to supplement artificial lighting. The innovation in design category offers 6 possible points and focuses on unique ways that you have gone green. The regional priority category offers 4 points.
So, if you want to get the LEED Platinum certification, EnviroCitizen.org suggests that you do your research, get the right team and build or renovate your building with as many green features as possible!