The Way To A Green Future With Sustainable Building Design
By this point, talking about sustainable building as a “fad” is almost like saying you’re still skeptical about this whole indoor plumbing “trend.”
Sustainable building design and sustainable development aren’t just niches within the construction industry today — they’ve been fully integrated into the day-to-day business of building in the United States. Property owners and builders across the country are recognizing that building with sustainability in mind is good for more than just the environment. It’s also beneficial for their reputations and bottom line.
There’s no doubt that one of the major drivers of this sea change in the construction industry has been the U.S. Green Building Council, a group of building industry leaders that established the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program in 2000. A building’s LEED status is now a common sight on plaques in buildings across the country. Many developers and property owners use their LEED certification status as a selling point to prospective tenants concerned with improving their environmental footprint.
With LEED certification such an important part of the building industry today, it’s important for property owners, developers and builders to understand how a building obtains LEED certification. The process involves a thorough review of a project’s sustainability according to numerous criteria. These criteria range from the use of green building materials during construction to the building’s ongoing efforts to reduce energy consumption.
Property owners begin the LEED certification process by registering their property or project with the U.S. Green Building Council. There are multiple categories depending on the type of project or building, and fit-outs and renovations of existing buildings can be LEED certified along with new construction. Once the project is registered, property owners must establish a project team tasked with submitting data on the building’s sustainability performance to the LEED reviewers. The reviewers determine how well the project meets the criteria for LEED standards and assigns a point value based on its performance. Although LEED scores are affected by fundamental design elements such as the use of recycled or sustainable building materials, including renewable bamboo or perforated metal, they also can be influenced by relatively small changes such as the use of programmable thermostats inside the building and choosing low-VOC paints. Based on the project’s final score, the property can be certified in one of four tiers: LEED Certified, LEED Silver, LEED Gold or LEED Platinum.
The rise of LEED certification as a measure of a building’s environmental sustainability is more than just a fad. It represents a sincere effort on behalf of the construction industry to reduce energy consumption and be more responsible from an ecological standpoint. Builders and developers that have been standing on the sidelines waiting to see if LEED fades into the background have their answer now — LEED is the way of the foreseeable future for the construction industry. The accompanying guide can help property owners, developers and builders understand the process of LEED certification and many of the most common ways they can improve the LEED scores of their projects.