What is LEED Certification and Why Is It Important?
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a third party verification system for green buildings developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The operation of buildings and the construction of new buildings have had a negative impact on the environment for countless years. Because of this, builders and building owners alike are now turning to LEED to assist them in retrofitting and designing more environmentally conscious buildings and communities.
What Does LEED Do?
LEED certification helps to identify how environmentally friendly and sustainable a building really is. LEED takes into account metrics such as:
- Water Efficiency,
- Energy Efficiency,
- CO2 Emissions Reductions,
- Indoor Environmental Quality
and more to determine whether a building is worthy of LEED certification and at what level. LEED is one of many third party verification programs, but it is considered one of the very best.
How Does LEED Certification Work?
LEED provides certification for all types of buildings, from corporate headquarters to small homes. Certification also covers all phases of development from design and construction, to operations and maintenance, to significant retrofits.
There are several areas that address sustainability issues that LEED scores. The total number of points that a project receives translates to one of four LEED certification rating levels. These levels are Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.
LEED awards points across the following categories:
- Location and Transportation
- Sustainable Sites
- Water Efficiency
- Energy and Atmosphere
- Materials and Resources
- Indoor Environmental Quality
- Regional Priority
Because all project types are different, LEED scores different project types differently. The project types that they score include the following:
Building Design and Construction
This includes new construction, core and shell, schools, retail, data centers, warehouses, distribution centers, hospitality and healthcare.
Interior Design and Construction
This covers projects that are complete interior fit-out, such as commercial interiors, retail interiors and hospitality.
Building Operations and Maintenance
This area is for existing buildings that are being retrofitted with very little construction work, and includes buildings such as existing data centers, warehouses, distribution centers, hospitality buildings, retail buildings and schools.
Neighborhood and Development
This is for both new land development and redevelopment projects that contain residential uses or nonresidential uses – or a mixture of both – at all phases of development, from planning to construction.
This comprises all single family homes, low-rise multi-family homes and mid-rise multi-family homes.
It’s worth noting that LEED does update its scoring system semi-regularly to include any advances made in building design, it is currently in its fourth version.
The Importance of LEED Certification
All building projects can benefit from obtaining a high LEED certification. But this is especially true for existing commercial buildings, government buildings and school buildings.
The following are just a few of the reasons why obtaining LEED certification is so important:
Reduce your environmental footprint
The operation of your building has a huge impact on the environment. A LEED Gold certified building produces 34 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than a non-LEED certified building.
By obtaining LEED certification or even improving your LEED score, you can save more money in the long run. This is especially important for businesses in commercial spaces that need to reduce their overhead as much as possible.
By improving things such as energy efficiency and water efficiency, you’ll greatly reduce the monthly utility bills, which can add up to a substantial amount in the long run – especially for larger buildings.
Just consider the savings of the average LEED Gold certified building:
- Uses 25 percent less energy than a building without LEED certification.
- Uses 11 percent less water than a building that a building that is certified.
- The operating costs decline by an average of nine percent over a single year and upwards of 13 percent within five years according to estimates by the USGBC.
- Additionally, if your building is up to LEED standards, there’s a good chance that you may qualify for certain government tax credits.
Create a healthier environment
Buildings that are built and operated in ways that are not environmentally-friendly often contain unhealthy indoor environments. Many of the people that work in such environments become ill due to what’s known as sick building syndrome. Sick building syndrome causes absenteeism and a drop in productivity, which is why creating a healthy indoor environment is so important. The healthier your indoor environment is, the more comfortable it will be.
As you can see, LEED certification is something that building owners and managers should take very seriously. One of the ways that you can improve your building’s energy efficiency to gain a higher LEED rating is by implementing BOSS Controls. Find out more about what we can do to help improve your energy efficiency by contacting BOSS today.