How are green buildings rated?
As building owners, developers and designers grew more aware of and interested in the financial advantages of environmentally sustainable Green building development, a range of questions and concerns emerged about quantifying and synchronizing construction standards.
To address these concerns, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a national nonprofit membership organization, developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) System to provide a guideline and rating system for Green buildings. USGBC reports that it currently certifies 500 buildings and another 4000 more under construction.
“LEED rating has become the most important force in the surging market for Green buildings,” said Stephen Bushnell, Fireman’s Fund Insurance’s Real Estate Industry Product Director. “The LEED rating system sets the standard for green construction.”
Benchmark Guideline and Rating System
USGBC describes its LEED Green Building Rating System as: “The nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance.”
LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health:
- Sustainable site development
- Water savings
- Energy efficiency
- Materials selection
- Indoor environmental quality
Measuring and Documenting Success
LEED provides a roadmap for measuring and documenting success for every building type and phase of a building lifecycle, according to USGBC.
Specific LEED Programs include:
- New Commercial Construction and Major Renovation projects
- Existing Building Operations and Maintenance
- Commercial Interiors projects
- Core and Shell Development projects
- Neighborhood Development
- Guidelines for Multiple Buildings and On-Campus Building Projects
USGBC is also developing LEED for Schools, LEED Retail for New Construction, LEED Retail for Commercial Interiors and LEED for Healthcare.
How Was LEED Developed?
According to USGBC, the LEED Rating System was created to transform the built environment to sustainability by providing the building industry with consistent, credible standards for what constitutes a Green building.
The rating system is developed and continuously refined via an open, consensus-based process that has made LEED the Green building standard of choice for federal agencies and state and local governments nationwide.
What Is LEED Certification?
The first step to LEED certification is to register a project. To earn certification, a building project must meet certain prerequisites and performance benchmarks (‘credits’) within each category. Projects are awarded Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum certification depending on the number of credits they achieve.
This comprehensive approach is the reason LEED-certified buildings have reduced operating costs, produced healthier and more productive occupants, and conserve more natural resources, according to the USGBC Web site.
Who Can Use LEED?
USGBC reports that LEED is open to everyone-architects, real estate professionals, facility managers, engineers, interior designers, landscape architects, construction managers, lenders and government officials.
The LEED program also includes a full suite of training workshops and a Professional Accreditation program to develop and encourage Green building expertise across the entire building industry.
Specific LEED Questions
Source: Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company
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