A.H. Harris Blog

Benefits of Green Building & LEED certification

by Martin Hennig

(guest blog post by Steve Wright of Whirlwind)

Green building and sustainability are becoming the de facto standard for many building owners. With today’s emphasis on the environment and on saving money, green building and LEED certification are now common in requests for proposals. Obtaining a LEED certification can add value to your building in the form of higher rents, lower energy costs, and many other benefits.

What is LEED? LEED, aka Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a certification program administered by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and can be obtained by building owners, contractors, engineers, and others who design, build, maintain structures in an environmentally conscious fashion. Certifications come in different levels based on a 100 point scale:

  • Certified
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Platinum

LEED certification levels (U.S. Green Building Council) LEED certification levels (U.S. Green Building Council)

The higher the level the smaller the impact that building has on the environment. It is even split into different design categories so there are a number of ways to get LEED certified:

  • Sustainable sites
  • Water efficiency
  • Energy and atmosphere
  • Materials and resources
  • Indoor environmental quality

A LEED certification can be awarded for both new and remodeled construction.

Advantages of LEED Certification One of the most visible advantages of LEED certification is that it shows a commitment to the environment. It tells the world that your organization cares about sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. But there are more advantages than that, some of them quite tangible. With a LEED certification come tax breaks. You will also have a more energy efficient building. Green buildings are famous for creating a better work environment with lots of natural light, open areas, higher air quality, and an overall better work environment. The community accrues benefits as well. A green building in the area is an advertisement for the community commitment to green practices and saving the environment. A LEED certified building has lower operating costs. According to the New Building Institute, there is a 24% average decrease in energy consumption.

How to Get LEED Certified Remembering the advantages will make the extra effort easier.

Step 1: Review and determine the type of LEED certification you want to achieve; see the U.S. Green Building Council website to help you choose. Your project must meet all of the requirements in the category in order to qualify.

Step 2: Ensure your building strategy meets the LEED level requirements you select. Everyone must follow the strategies qualify. Review the following:

  • Water system efficiency
  • Building materials
  • Use of minimally environmentally impactful resources
  • Sustainably grown resources
  • Power systems
  • Environmental impact of site selection

Step 3: Register your project with the Green Building Certification Institute. You must make a Declaration of Intent, file all the relevant and required applications, and pay the fees required. Now you have access to additional resources and information.

Step 4: Make sure your team follows all rules and guidelines for the design category selected. Your project manager must indicate the certification level and list the individuals responsible for each step.

Step 5: Complete the application. Upload the application and any additional required documents to the Green Building Council website. A certificate will be awarded upon approval of the project. If your application is denied, the project manager has the right to appeal.

Tips for Getting LEED Certified Here are some ideas for making the road a little smoother.

Set a Clear Environmental Target If you don’t lock down the exact level and set a firm overall budget before beginning it will be difficult to tell if you are finished. Put in an optional stretch goal; if you have time and money left, you may want to pursue a higher level.

Stick to Your Goals Stick to your budget and LEED goal, no scope creep. Your team must focus on meeting the LEED goal on budget in order to gain your expected ROI. The environmental and economical integrity of your project is paramount.

Engineer for Life Cycle Value You want to set your goal according to life cycle value first rather than cost-value engineering. Carefully evaluate how the investment for the LEED certification will impact the building’s expenses over its entire lifetime and before you cut any line item, consider closely its relationship to other features.

Hire LEED-Accredited Professionals They can suggest ways to earn credits without incurring extra costs. They can identify the best way to offset expenses with savings in other areas. They can also pinpoint opportunities for synergy within the project, creating a streamlined path to completion.

Buildings You Didn’t Know Were Green Environmentally responsible building practices seem very modern. Did you think any of these would be considered a Green Building?

  • The oldest LEED building in the world, the Venetian gothic palazzo built in 1453.
  • The oldest LEED building in U.S., the Fay House at Harvard University built in 1807.
  • The U.S Treasury Building in Washington, D.C., the only known LEED certified building appearing on monetary currency. It was built in 1842.
  • The Westinghouse Air Brake Factory (now the Headquarters of the Pittsburgh Opera) in Pittsburgh, PA. It was originally built in 1869.
  • The West 135th Street Apartments in New York, built in 1910.
  • The Linde + Robinson Laboratory at Caltech in Pasadena, CA. It was originally built in 1932.

To see more historic buildings that have achieved LEED certification, click here. Consider the long picture when planning your LEED certified building. The advantages will quickly overtake the extra cost of construction and application.

 

>> Guest Blog Author Bio: Steve Wright works for Whirlwind Steel Buildings, a manufacturer of pre-engineered steel buildings and components. Whirlwind Steel metal buildings are manufactured and designed to meet the highest quality standards. To learn more, visit http://www.whirlwindsteel.com.

Whirlwindsteel

If you are interested in guest blogging on ahharris.com/blog please contact us at "info[at]ahharris.com" or use the contact us form on our website. Thank you Steve and team at Whirlwind Steel Buildings for your contribution!

Categories: Building Materials, LEED, Green Building, Construction, Guest Blog, Sustainability

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