Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED as it is most commonly called, is internationally recognized as one of the leading standards for sustainable design and building. The LEED certification program is administered by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) and the certification is awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Certifications are available for any type of project; we will concentrate on commercial buildings here.
A commercial building that is LEED certified has achieved the highest level of recognition in sustainability and performance. LEED certified architects, engineers and energy consultants have a rigorous understanding of green buildings and best practices.
LEED is a rating system that scores a building on specific factors for the building type. Measures applied earn points and the number of points earned determines the level of certification achieved. Targets are LEED certified, LEED Silver, LEED Gold and LEED Platinum. Commercial buildings must address the following categories:
- Integrative Process – points for integrating design, construction and operation
- Location and Transportation – points for thoughtful planning around ways to reduce environmental impact of cars and parking areas, etc.
- Water Efficiency – credit for reducing water usage
- Indoor Environmental Quality – points for methods to improve indoor spaces
- Innovation – points for using a strategy not defined by the LEED system
- Regional Priority – points for recognizing and including local needs
- Sustainable Sites – credits for cohesive design that works with the surrounding ecosystem
- Materials and Resources – credits for waste management and responsibility sourced raw materials
- Energy and Atmosphere – points for integrating high efficiency energy performance measures and renewables
Many municipalities and city governments are beginning to accept LEED certification as a building code compliance pathway and the list above shows why. A LEED Certified building design takes the building’s impact on the surrounding community into careful consideration. The DC Commercial Energy Conservation Code allows selection of LEED certification as a compliance pathway. Montgomery County, Maryland is an accepted alternative compliance path and also offer tax incentives for certified project.
But what benefit can certifying have for the building stakeholders? Designing to LEED standards has many benefits for the building, its occupants and its investors.
- Environmental benefits – LEED buildings produce less pollution and less waste. LEED buildings are friendlier to their neighbors and therefore more welcome.
- Cost savings – savings in the form of less energy consumption and other resources.
- Recognition – Consumers, employees, tenants and fellow commercial entities recognize the LEED standard and with the heightened awareness around climate change, are more likely to do business with an environmentally conscious organization.
- Healthy Building – LEED standards create a healthy, positive experience for employees and tenants. Reduction in absenteeism and increased productivity can result from the improved indoor air quality and occupant-centric design.
- Expert Technical Consulting – LEED certified green consultants are experienced in the latest construction practices and LEED requirements. With their knowledgeable guidance through the LEED checklist, the design team can navigate decision making with confidence. The LEED program requires verification during construction and having LEED raters on site offers a higher level of quality assurance that the building is being constructed as designed. The LEED program has a vigorous public relations guide and support program to assist in promotion.
The Albireo Energy team is composed of building performance thought leaders and one of the ways that they offer their expertise to stakeholders is through LEED certification. Bringing Albireo in as a partner at the concept stage will assist the project in starting off on the right path to optimize sustainability performance and operation/maintenance. LEED certification raises the bar on building design and the Albireo’s LEED certified experts will guide organizations through the program resulting in a high-performing building.