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Educate>LEED Certification

 

LEED Certification

 

The Reason Why…

It is quite imperative that we as Americans decrease our fossil fuel consumption in efforts to sustain our beautiful world. Many elements of the Earth are being stripped away and not replaced or renewed, which can lead to significant negative effects on our environment.

Many negative effects on the environment are due to greenhouse gas emissions which pollute our atmospheres and result in the production of acid rain.

Efforts to mitigate the human footprint have led to important developments in sustainable building design and construction.

Green buildings are more efficient and employ a variety of both construction techniques and renewable materials that contribute to less environmental harm and an increase in energy efficiency.

According to the USGBC website:

Past research has focused on the impact of green design and construction on the health and productivity of the final occupants of a facility.

Literature indicates that green building concepts, applied to the design, construction and operation of buildings, can enhance both the economic well-being and environmental health of a buildings final occupants.

There are several Green Building initiatives and programs but above all, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) is the country’s largest and most well-known.

The USGBC created LEED-Certification as a way to rate green buildings as well as encourage project managers to become certified and receive several benefits from doing so.

 

What is USGBC?

The USGBC is the United States Green Building Council and its purpose is to promote a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through the construction of cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.

Their Mission: To transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, health, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life.

Their Vision: Buildings and communities will regenerate and sustain the health and vitality of all life within a generation.

 

What does the USGBC comprise of?

The USGBC is comprised of 78 local affiliates, more than 18,000 member companies and organizations, and more than 140,000 LEED Professional Credential holders.

The organization is projected to contribute nearly $554 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product from 2009-2013.

 

USGBC Programs

 

USGBC Programs include:

    • LEED Green Building Certification

    • Education

    • Greenbuild International Conference and Expo

    • Advocacy

    • Chapter Programs

    • Emerging Professionals

 

LEED Green Building Certification

The USGBC’s preeminent green building certification rating system.

This program rates the design, construction and operation of green buildings.

There are currently 35,000 projects participating in the LEED-Certification system. This particular program will be discussed in greater detail later in the text.

 

Education in USGBC

USBGC provides top quality educational programs on green design, construction, and operations for professionals from all sectors of the building industry.

The programs are used to:

    • Gain practical knowledge

    • Explore new business opportunities

    • Learn how to create healthier, more productive and more efficient places to live and work.

 

GreenBuild International Conference & Expo

Greenbuild is the world’s leading conference and exposition regarding green building. The conference was launched in 2002 and has become quite popular among the green building industry.

The conference includes:

    • Educational Sessions

    • Guest Speakers

    • Green Building Tours

    • Special Seminars

    • Networking Events

    • GREEN Exhibit Featuring New Products and Technologies.

Advocacy

Though various volunteer green building advocates and policy engagement with decision-makers in the federal government and state governments, USGBC is accelerating the up-take of policies and initiatives that enable and encourage market transformation towards a sustainable architectural environment.

 

Chapter Programs

There are 78 regional USGBC chapters nationwide providing green building resources, education and networking opportunities in their corresponding communities.

 

Emerging Professionals

A USGBC program that provides educational opportunities and resources to young professionals with the goal of integrating these future leaders into the green building movement.

 

What is LEED?

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies intended to improve performance in metrics such as energy saving, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

LEED provides building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

 

Why Build Green?

According to the USGBC website –

    Buildings in the United States are responsible for:

        • 39% of CO2 emissions

        • 40% of energy consumption

        • 13% water consumption

        • 15% of GDP per year

Greater building efficiency can meet 85% of future U.S. demand for energy and the potential to generate 2.5 million American jobs.

It is important that all consumers understand the statistics surrounding our nation’s carbon footprint in reference to energy and water consumption.

There are simple ways for our nation to be proactive about the reduction of the usage of fossil fuels. LEED buildings provide several benefits regarding sustaining an environmentally-friendly architectural building.

Many benefits besides a step towards environmental sustainability, include an overall decrease in energy costs per year, an overall decrease in water costs per year and an achieved mindset among the community and one’s self that the earth is a main priority to be addressed by all.

 

    By using less energy, LEED-certified buildings:

      • Save money for families, businesses, and tax-payers.

      • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

      • Contributes to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the community

 

LEED Green Building Rating Systems

The LEED green building certification system is the preeminent program for rating the design, construction, and operation of green buildings. 35,000 projects are currently participating in the LEED system, comprising over 4.5 billion square feet of construction space in all 50 states and 91 countries.

LEED is a voluntary certification program that can be applied to any building type and any building lifecycle phase.

It is important for the LEED Rating Systems to serve all types of architecture and community buildings so that everyone can be included in the efforts to become a sustainable nation. As you can see below, there are 9 different areas in which LEED certification can be issued.

 

LEED Version 3

LEED V3 was launched on April 27, 2009 and it is the latest system of green building certification. LEED V3 builds on the fundamental structure and familiarity of the existing rating system, but provides a new structure for making sure the rating system incorporates new technology and addresses the most urgent priorities.

 

LEED V3 consists of 3 components:

    • LEED 2009: technical advancements to the LEED rating systems’ credits and points.

    • LEED Online: an upgrade to LEED Online that is faster and easier to use.

    • New Building certification model: an expanded certification infrastructure based on ISO standards, administered by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) for improved capacity, speed and performance.

 

LEED-Certified Buildings are designed to:

    • Lower operating costs and increase asset value

    • Reduce waste sent to landfills

    • Conserve energy and water

    • Be healthier and safer for occupants

    • Reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions

    • Qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives in hundreds of cities

    • Demonstrate an owner’s commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility

 

The following are the LEED Rating Systems:

    • New Construction

    • Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance

    • Commercial Interiors

    • Core & Shell

    • Schools

    • Retail

    • Healthcare

    • Homes

    • Neighborhood Development

Basically, the certification system is in the form of a checklist, in which points are rewarded, that reflects the potential of the structure as well as the environmental impact that it will achieve overall.

LEED points (credits) are awarded on a 100-point scale and credits are weighted to reflect their potential environmental impacts.

Additionally, 10 bonus credits are available, four of which address regionally specific environmental issues (Regional Priority). A project must satisfy all prerequisites and earn a minimum number of points to be certified.

 

The program envelops the growing efforts of sustainability by recognizing 9 key areas:

      • Sustainable Sites

      • Water Efficiency

      • Energy & Atmosphere

      • Materials & Resources

      • Indoor Environmental Quality

      • Locations & Linkages

      • Awareness & Education

      • Innovation in Design

      • Regional Priority

For a better understanding, each of the key areas will be discussed in detail within the following:

 

Sustainable Sites

The Sustainable Sites category is broken down into the following several functions:

    • Discourages development on previously undeveloped land

    • Minimizes a building’s impact on ecosystems and waterways

    • Encourages regionally appropriate landscaping

    • Rewards smart transportation choices

    • Controls storm-water runoff

    • Reduces erosion, light pollution, heat island effect, and construction-related pollution.

 

Water Efficiency

Due to the fact that large buildings are major users of our potable water supply, it is crucial to incorporate water efficiency as a main focus when designing a LEED Certified building.

Water reduction is typically achieved through more efficient appliances, fixtures, fittings inside of the building and water-wise landscaping outside including rainwater harvesting, green roofs, incorporation of native plants, etc.

The Water Efficiency category is very important because it encourages smarter use of water, both inside and outside of the building. This proactive mindset will hopefully be recognized and passed on; and consequently, water-sustaining habits will then be seen within a person’s daily life.

 

Energy & Atmosphere

The Energy & Atmosphere category addresses and encourages the following energy-saving strategies:

      • Commissioning

      • Energy use monitoring

      • Efficient design and construction

      • Efficient appliances

      • Systems & lighting

      • The use of renewable and clean sources of energy, generated on-site or off-site

Energy is a crucial factor to take into consideration when designing GREEN plans for building, renovation and demolition. Energy consumption is extremely high within the United States and this particular LEED certification category rigorously rates the efficiency of a building’s energy use.

It is very important for buildings to be tested for the amount of energy consumption that they acquire in order to establish a clear rating of the building within this category.

A great deal of time should be spent choosing the correct energy-efficient appliances and systems for the home if you are looking to decrease costs associated with energy and utility bills.

 

Materials & Resources

The Materials and Resources category encourages the selections of sustainably grown, harvested, produced and transported products and materials.

It promotes the reductions of waste as well as reuse and recycling, and takes into account the reduction of waste at a product’s source.

This particular category includes several different areas of recycling and sustainable waste management. Sustainable waste management is very important within our nation because the amount of waste being produced is too much for our designated landfills to hold and as a result cause varying amounts of pollution and harm to the environment.

It is also important to purchase materials that are sustainably made or acquired because after all, you are looking to build a LEED certified sustainable building and to be passive with the materials used to do so is only a step back in the race for environmental change.

 

Indoor Environmental Quality

Indoor air quality can be significantly worse than the quality of the air outside and most people spend their entire day indoors. This raises a pertinent concern that the indoor environmental quality of one’s home, school, and job may have negative consequences.

The Indoor Environmental Quality category promotes strategies that can improve indoor air quality as well as providing access to natural sun-light and views and improving the acoustics of the area or building.

 

Locations & Linkage

The Locations & Linkages category promotes that homes be built away from environmentally sensitive places and instead encourages homes to be built in infill, previously developed and other preferable sites.

The rating system rewards homes that are built near:

    • Already-existing infrastructures

    • Community resources and transit

And encourages:

    • Access to open space for walking

    • Physical activity

    • Time spent outdoors

 

Awareness & Education

The Awareness & Education category encourages home builders and real estate professionals to provide homeowners, tenants and building managers with the education and tools that they need to understand what makes their home green and how to make the most of those features.

It is important to understand Green Building and LEED Certification in order to successfully take advantage of the many qualities provided by the building, inside and out.

 

Innovation in Design

The Innovation in Design category provides bonus points to projects that use new and innovative technologies and strategies to improve a building’s performance that exceeds the requirements of Green Building or LEED Certification.

It rewards projects for including a LEED Accredited Professional on the team to ensure a holistic, integrated approach during the design and construction phase.

It is important to have this particular category because it provides another reason to be innovative and use creative designs that can potentially advance the green movement.

Regional Priority

Dependent upon the state, up to four extra credits can be earned by any project that earns a regional priority credit.

Meaning, that depending on the state where the location or building in question resides, credits will be given in the situation when the construction of the building will greatly improve the quality of life in the surrounding communities.

 

LEED RATING

 

LEED rating is simplified into four levels of accomplishment in the nine key areas stated above. Those levels are:

  • Certified
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Platinum

    The USGBC website lists 9,812 projects that have been LEED certified and nearly half of the projects were homes.

 

    • Certified: 663 projects -- 779 homes

    • Silver: 2215 projects -- 4071 homes

    • Gold: 1001 projects -- 2770 homes

    • Platinum: 694 projects -- 2192 homes

 

The following chart shows the comparison between the numbers of LEED certified projects and LEED certified homes.

 

As you can see, designing homes that promote sustainability is an emerging phenomenon within our society that should be praised and more homes should become sustainable, if not physically, then at least by the family inside of the home.

    Top 10 LEED Certified States (per capita):

      • District of Columbia

      • Nevada

      • New Mexico

      • New Hampshire

      • Oregon

      • South Carolina

      • Washington

      • Illinois

      • Arkansas

      • Colorado

      • Minnesota

USGBC is committed to supporting federal, state and local governments in their pursuit and development of green building programs and initiatives. Here, governments have access to best practices, lessons learned and other initiatives already in place across the country.

 

Various LEED initiatives including legislation, executive orders, resolutions, ordinances, policies, and incentives are found in:

  • 45 states, including 442 localities (384 cities/towns and 58 counties), 

  • 35 state governments (including the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico), 

  • 14 federal agencies or departments, and numerous public school jurisdictions and institutions of higher education across the United States. 

 

Government-owned or occupied LEED buildings make up 28% of all LEED projects.

  • The federal government has 369 certified projects and another 3,665 pursuing certification. 

  • State governments have 558 certified projects and 1,995 pursuing certification. 

  • Local governments have 829 certified projects and 3,156 pursuing certification.

 

A complete list of states ranked by the number of LEED projects:

Rank

State

Registered

Certified

Total

1

California

3975

1098

5073

2

Texas

1915

471

2376

3

New York

1913

341

2254

4

Florida

1445

311

1756

5

Illinois

1010

396

1406

6

Virginia

1124

243

1367

7

Georgia

1013

254

1267

8

Maryland

1065

190

1255

9

Pennsylvania

929

324

1253

10

Washington

821

349

1170

11

Ohio

900

187

1087

12

N. Carolina

871

210

1081

13

New Jersey

867

120

987

14

Massachusetts

664

291

955

15

Colorado

682

266

948

16

Michigan

455

239

694

17

Arizona

502

156

658

18

Oregon

392

232

624

19

Montana

343

102

445

20

Minnesota

296

135

431

21

Wisconsin

290

138

428

22

Connecticut

338

74

412

23

S. Carolina

316

85

401

24

Tennessee

318

79

397

25

New Mexico

331

62

393

26

Indiana

298

69

367

27

Nevada

250

57

307

28

Alabama

268

35

303

29

Iowa

211

68

279

30

Utah

208

51

259

31

Hawaii

216

32

248

32

Kansas

173

43

216

33

Kentucky

179

35

214

34

Louisiana

166

17

183

35

Maine

123

46

169

36

Arkansas

121

46

167

37

Oklahoma

142

21

163

38

Idaho

102

35

137

39

Missouri

111

23

134

40

New Hampshire

96

31

127

41

Vermont

78

37

115

42

Delaware

93

13

106

43

Nebraska

77

26

103

44

Alaska

86

16

102

45

Rhode Island

75

26

101

45

Montana

72

24

96

47

W. Virginia

76

11

87

48

S. Dakota

68

13

81

49

Wyoming

51

16

67

50

N. Dakota

54

3

57

 

 

LEED IN LANCASTER

 

In Lancaster County, there is only one LEED-Platinum certified building and that is the Armstrong Worldwide Industries Corporate Headquarters.

Lancaster County is included within the Central PA chapter of the United States Green Building Council.

 

There are three LEED-certified buildings within Lancaster City, PA:

  • Armstrong World Industries, Corporate Headquarters  --  Platinum

  • High Concrete Group Maintenance Building  --  Silver

  • Kohl’s Lancaster East  --  Certified

However, within the Central PA state chapter, there are 292 buildings with LEED certification.

 

Out of the 292 buildings, 8 have platinum certification, the highest certification:

    • Aquatic Facility in Philadelphia, PA - Overbrook School for the Blind

    • Bakery Sqaure in Pittsburgh, PA – Nabisco Building

    • Green Building Alliance offices in Pittsburgh, PA

    • Horticulture Center/Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia, PA

    • Kensington CAPA High School in Philadelphia, PA

    • SKF USA Headquarters in Norristown, PA

    • Berks County Community Foundation – Headquarters and Community Conference Center in Reading, PA

    • Friends Center Corporation in Philadelphia, PA

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

 

  • What is USGBC?

    The USGBC is the United States Green Building Council and its purpose is to promote a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through the construction of cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.

     

  • What is LEED?

    LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies intended to improve performance in metrics such as energy saving, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

     

  • What are the categories rated in LEED Certification?

    There are 10 categories in the LEED Certification Rating System and they are:

      • Sustainable Sites

      • Water Efficiency

      • Energy & Atmosphere

      • Materials & Resources

      • Indoor Environmental Quality

      • Locations & Linkages

      • Awareness & Education

      • Innovation in Design

      • Regional Priority

 

  • Are there any LEED-Certified Buildings in Lancaster, PA?

    There are three LEED-certified buildings within Lancaster City, PA:

    • Armstrong World Industries, Corporate Headquarters  --  Platinum
    • High Concrete Group Maintenance Building  --  Silver
    • Kohl’s Lancaster East  --  Certified

     

  • What are the levels of LEED certification?

    There are four levels of LEED certification and they are the following from basic to advanced:

    • Certified
    • Silver
    • Gold
    • Platinum

** Statistics and Information provided by the United States Green Building Council at www.usgbc.org/

 

 

** A special Thanks to Rick Frescatore for providing information on LEED Certification and photos?


This site was created by Susanna Andress at Millersville University of Pennsylvania

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