In a day when environmental awareness is more necessary than ever before, developers and builders have plenty of reasons to seek LEED certification for their construction projects. Firstly, many cities offer financial incentives to building projects who implement “green” protocols and lower their carbon footprint. (New York and Boston both have these initiatives in place.) Secondly, LEED certification has become something of a badge of honor that impresses and attracts residents, tenants and companies to occupy the space. And thirdly—all other reasons aside, protecting the environment is just the right thing to do, in whatever ways we find to do so.
If you’re thinking about pursuing LEED certification for your upcoming construction project, here’s what you need to know to get started down the path.
What is LEED?
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a rating system developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to encourage innovations toward sustainable design and to rate buildings on their compliance with certain standards. What’s important to understand up front is that LEED certification isn’t a yes/no thing, but rather a continuum or a tiered system. Rating is based on a point system leading to four levels of certification:
Basic LEED Certification: 40-49
Silver Certification: 50-59
Gold Certification: 60-79
Platinum Certification: 80-110
The higher the point rating, the better rated your building is for energy efficiency and sustainability, and the more credibility your building has as a “green” construction.
Achieving LEED Certification
Building projects seeking certification must go through a basic process:
Register the project with LEED (accompanied by the appropriate fee).
Form a plan of action. Certification is accomplished by meeting established prerequisites and earning a certain number of points toward certification. The general list of available credits can be found here.
Apply for certification, based on achieving the objectives in your plan of action.
Certification review, performed by Green Business Certification, Inc. (GBCI)
Understanding LEED v4
The standards for LEED certification have differed based on the type of construction project (e.g., homes, commercial, existing structures, schools, retail, etc.). The newest protocol, LEED v4, offers a more flexible, streamlined approach that embraces a variety of projects while raising the standards for green building moving forward. Learn more about LEED v4 here.
Focus on Integration to Reach Compliance
LEED’s entire approach to sustainability is not just about numbers; it’s about seeing a construction as an integrated entity, not unlike the human body with many working parts. Understanding this concept up front can help you make construction decisions that improve your chances for achieving LEED certification. This video explains a bit more.
The USGBC has provided a set of guides to help various construction projects find the path toward LEED certification; this is a great place to start if you are serious about green construction and sustainability. Wellbuilt can also advise you on the best ways to qualify for LEED certification with your building project. To learn more, give us a call at 1.866.846.4874.