The drive to go green has never been more urgent than it is now. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, homes and neighborhoods. This system was developed and administered by the U.S. Green Building Council, a Washington D.C.-based, nonprofit coalition of building industry leaders.
With L.E.E.D.S Certification bringing in tangible benefits, (tax breaks, low cost loans, priority permits, etc.) it is becoming clear that some sectors of construction and industry not known for their environmental conscience have made going green a priority because of financial considerations.
Well done. This is one of the reasons that the L.E.E.D.S. Certification process was introduced. Not necessarily to preach to the choir of those already involved with eco footprint reduction but to involve industries whose bottom line has traditionally been the bottom line, industries that would not normally take eco products and building practices seriously.
With the establishment of the United States Green Building Council, it has become easier to contact and retain a LEEDS knowledgeable staff member and associate them with a project so as to be proactive in seeking certification.
The benefits of acquiring LEEDS certification is based on getting credit for achieving set goals in 5 major categories with 2 bonus categories of the “extra credit” variety:
Sustainable Sites: 21
Water Efficiency: 11
Energy and Atmosphere: 37
Materials and Resources: 14
Indoor Environmental Quality: 17
Total Maximum Possible Points: 100
Innovation in operation +6
Regional priority credits +4
Specific rating can be gained by meeting a percentage of each goal.
· LEED Certified: 26-32 points or >37% of max.
· LEED Certified Silver Level: 33-38 points or >47% of max.
· LEED Certified Gold Level: 39-51 points or >56% of max.
· LEED Certified Platinum Level: 52-69 points or >75% of max.
With the point system so tight, it behooves those seeking the upper echelons of certification to excel at every category especially the “innovation in operation” one. Since this category is a “catch-all” for designs and systems not addressed in the structured areas, it can become a real boon for those looking to squeeze every last ounce of certification juice out of their selection of materials and processes.
Some products that may help your certification can be purchased from a mat company that offers environmentally friendly recycled rubber mats, such as MatsMatsMats.com.
The introduction of High Performance Mat Systems made from recycled materials is a type of double duty product that can help push you over the top. The benefits of an HPMS in and of itself can be noted in the “Innovation in Operation” category, as a means of keeping harsh chemical cleaners and polishes to a minimum AND the material choice itself can be made to ensure that it is eco-friendly and innovative.
In addition, since most companies utilize chair mats for ease of rolling on carpet, you can choose an eco-friendly bamboo chair mat rather than a plastic one.
Finally the building has a gym for tenants, once again choosing a recycled rubber flooring option can help with those very important “Innovation in Operation” extra credits.
Before setting out to acquire any LEED certification you must:
Set a clear LEED Certification Level. Before you begin the design phase of your project, decide what level of LEED certification you are aiming for and settle on a firm overall budget. Also consider including an optional higher certification target — a “stretch” goal — to stimulate creativity.
Set a clear and adequate budget. Higher levels of LEED certification, such as Platinum, do require additional expenditure and should be budgeted for accordingly.
Engineer for Life Cycle Value As you value-engineer your project, be sure to examine green investments in terms of how they will affect expenses over the entire life of the building. Before you decide to cut a line item, look first at its relationship to other features to see if keeping it will help you achieve money-saving synergies, as well as LEED credits. Many energy-saving features allow for the resizing or elimination of other equipment, or reduce total capital costs by paying for themselves immediately or within a few months of operation. Prior to beginning, set your goals for “life cycle” value-engineering rather than “first cost” value-engineering.
Hire LEED-accredited professionals. Thousands of architects, consultants, engineers, product marketers, environmentalists and other building industry professionals around the country have a demonstrated knowledge of green building and the LEED rating system and process — and can assist you in meeting your LEED goal. These professionals can suggest ways to earn LEED credits without extra cost, identify means of offsetting certain expenses with savings in other areas and spot opportunities for synergies in your project.
The “secret” to achieving your LEEDs goal, is to make eco choices at every juncture. We can help with some of those product choices at MatsMatsMats.com.
For more information on LEEDs certification please visit the LEEDs website: http://www.usgbc.org/LEED/LEED_main.asp