LEED By Example: The Impact of LEED Certification
The U.S. Green Building Council’s rating system LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) has become increasingly important and popular in recent years. Since its creation in 1998, LEED has grown to include over 12,000 projects in more than 30 countries. However, even basic LEED certifications can be incredibly difficult to achieve.
Before your building project can even be considered for LEED certification, it must comply with all environmental laws and regulations, occupancy scenarios and share all electrical and water usage data for five years. As the goal of the LEED certification is to provide building owners with a framework for more environmentally friendly building solutions, more astringent requirements are in place for its certification levels. These may include:
- Energy efficiency
- Transportation access
- Use of recycled materials
- Non-toxic paint
- Overall environmental and human health impact
While these may seem simple, a commercial business must earn a minimum of 40 points on a 110-point rating scale to earn LEED certification. Homes must earn at least 45 of 136 points. The survey and accreditation process involves a lengthy survey process that can cost upwards of $1,200. However, there are many benefits of earning a LEED certification.
Buildings that have met all requirements have been demonstrated to save an average of $6.08 per square foot of building space in operating costs. In large company facilities, these savings can allow a company to better provide for their employees. Google’s company benefits and facilities are notoriously generous and comfortable. The mega-search company has been involved in many LEED certifications and recently committed to reduce energy and water use and waste by 2014. Energy efficient lighting, low-flow toilets and other simple innovations can help reduce these costs. The benefits of the LEED program clearly help companies reduce cost while making a commitment to the environment.
If you have been considering applying for a LEED certification in your business, the benefits can extend further. As the green movement has gained popularity and support, LEED certifications have become selling points for possible customers, employees and tenants. Including information about your building’s certifications in the lobby and on your website can gain attention and support from many people. Certain states have even put property tax incentives in place; Cincinnati, Ohio has a 100 percent property tax exemption for newly constructed buildings that meet LEED certification standards. Other states have incentives in place for building materials.
The many benefits of meeting LEED standards can help your business thrive. The savings on energy costs, reduced property taxes and positive view of consumers all make the accreditation process worth the investment of time and capital. Meeting these standards sends the message that your company is committed to bettering its workplace and protecting the environment, goals that have become increasingly important as environmental impacts have become far-reaching. To get started on applying for your LEED certification, survey the U.S. Green Building Council’s standards and certification process and see if your building meets the requirements. There are many different levels of certification available, so carefully assess which is right for your building.
This is a guest post by Jessica Stark from Eat Breathe Blog. Jessica is interested in social media and environmental issues. She also enjoys learning about technology and loves spending time outdoors.