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. The LEED assessment is a well-constructed process that is completed by third party, independent parties, 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 one hundred possible points when you have your building inspected for certification. If you get between 40 and 49 points, you’ll be LEED Certified. If you get between 50 and 59 points, you’ll be LEED Silver Certified. If you get between 60 and 79 points, you’ll be LEED Gold Certified. If you get more than 80 points, you’ll get the coveted LEED Platinum Certification.
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 each so that you can see what it takes to earn a LEED Platinum certification.
LEED is a great program because it eliminates the confusion of what green building really is. This idea is critical because green washing is so prevalent today (green washing is the term that refers to companies claiming that something is green, like a household cleaning product, simply for marketing purposes). It sets standards for what defines green building.
LEED is also great because you can work with a LEED-AP (LEED Accredited Professional) from the beginning of your design phase. That way, you can learn about ways to make new buildings or renovations green and you can decide which options best suit you and your design. LEED does charge a fee, but many argue that the fee is small in comparison to the benefits you’ll receive from your LEED Certification. The fee varies, depending on the size of your project. In general, incorporating LEED into your project will equate to about 3% of your total costs. While the upfront cost might seem steep, you’ll save money over time by enjoying an energy-efficient building with lower maintenance costs. If your building will house a business, you can then market your business as LEED-certified, which
will boost your appeal with the growing demographic of citizens who care about sustainability. LEED is by far the most comprehensive green building certification program available. It helps you to design your plan with green features, which has many benefits. By going green with LEED, you will have a healthier building, which will inspire an increased rate of productivity and reduced absenteeism within your staff. LEED buildings also cost less to maintain over time, since they are energy-efficient.
EnviroCitizen.org suggests that anyone who is interested in building a green home or place of business considers making LEED a part of their project. LEED will ensure that your building is as green as possible, offering valuable green options and advice along the way!