“Sustainable development requires human ingenuity. People are the most important resource.” – Dan Shechtman
When it comes to sustainable development and home building, the benchmark and standard is LEED.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, is the world’s most widely used green building rating system. Applied to virtually all building types, it provides a framework for healthy, highly efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective green buildings.
According to an entry in Wikipedia,
“The LEED Green Building Rating System (LEED) is a program that provides third-party verification of green buildings. The LEED rating systems address both a wide variety of buildings types, including commercial buildings, homes, neighborhoods, retail, healthcare, and schools, as well as every phase of the building lifecycle including design, construction, operations and maintenance. Projects may earn one of four levels of LEED certification (Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum) by achieving a given number of point-based credits within the rating system.”
Green Building Beginnings
The origins of LEED sprang from the founding meeting that took place in the American Institute of Architects’ boardroom in April 1993. It was there that Rick Fedrizzi, David Gottfried and Mike Italiano met with representatives from 60 firms and several nonprofits.
The goal of this conference was to share ideas for an open and balanced coalition spanning the entire building industry and for a green building rating system.
Fedrizzi, Gottfried, and Italiano co-founded the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a membership-based non-profit organization that promotes sustainability in building design, construction, and operation.
The USGBC developed the LEED green building rating systems and is the administrative body that provides various certifications for building projects. The USGBC also hosts an annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building.
Today, LEED certification is available for all types of construction, including residential structures such as single-family homes.
A LEED-certified home provides several benefits as noted by the USGBC,
“LEED-certified homes are designed to provide clean indoor air and ample natural light and to use safe building materials to ensure our comfort and good health. They help us reduce our energy and water consumption, thereby lowering utility bills each month, among other financial benefits. Using the strategies outlined in LEED, homeowners are having a net-positive impact on their communities.
LEED homes are also designed, constructed and operated to be resilient in adverse conditions and are developed with proactive design planning for potential impacts of catastrophic weather.”
Independent Verification Through LEED Certification: A Green Seal
Why independent verification?
According to the USGBC, a carefully managed, independent, third-party verification system affirms the integrity of green building commitments by ensuring that project teams are delivering on design plans and goals.
In addition, third-party validation through LEED-certification helps guarantee that each project saves energy, water, and other resources, reducing overall environmental impact.
It is important to note that a building does not have to be certified to be sustainable and well-built. However, as the Whole Building Design Guide points out,
“It is important to note that ‘greenwashing’, which is defined as the use of green claims that are not true or are unverifiable but used to sell products or a corporate image, has become commonplace as companies try to stay competitive in the green marketplace.”
While it is certainly possible to pursue a green residential building project on your own without any third-party verification or certification, it can not only provide the necessary guidelines, but a LEED-certification can add to the value of the home.
In addition, there are several economic and environmental benefits to sustainable design, which can be verified with the established green building standards, rating, and certification systems such as LEED.
According to a study by the USGBC of LEED certified buildings, energy, carbon, water, and waste can be reduced, resulting in savings of 30 to 97 percent, respectively. And the operating costs of green buildings can be reduced by 8 to 9 percent, while increasing their value by up to 7 percent or more.
Why Use LEED for Independent Verification?
LEED is the undisputed leader in the realm of green building practices and sustainability. The USGBC and their LEED-certification system are considered the forerunner and standard for green building verification.
In addition, as Green Home Guide states,
“LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. LEED provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings. Designed and built for performance, every LEED home is third-party-inspected, tested and verified. LEED homes are gentler on the environment and on your wallet, delivering lower utility bills and requiring less maintenance. Simply put, LEED certified homes are higher quality.”
They go on to note that green homes are built better, are healthier, more comfortable, and require less maintenance.
- Each LEED-certified home undergoes required onsite inspections and performance testing by an independent expert to ensure that you are getting what you paid for.
- Onsite inspection of the insulation, air sealing and heating and cooling system installation ensures your home can comfortably heat and cool itself with minimal energy use. Hot or cold rooms become a thing of the past!
- LEED-certified homes are designed to maximize fresh air indoors and minimize exposure to airborne toxins and pollutants. Quality air filtration systems ensure less dust and allergens in your home.
The bottom line? A green, certified home is the way of the future – today.
Your Source for Sustainable Construction Advice and Guidance
Homeowners, contractors, and business owners alike can benefit greatly by implementing green and sustainable building practices. And having an experienced and knowledgeable professional to consult can make the process much easier.
Whether you’re a contractor about to build a home, a homeowner planning to build your own home or an addition, or a business owner who wants to create a more sustainable facility, sustainability consulting can benefit you.
A sustainable construction consultant can provide guidance and direction for any aspect of a project, whether it involves new construction, retrofitting for energy efficiency, or simply adding or upgrading energy saving components.
As an experienced construction consultant, I can guide you in all the phases of your project and answer your questions. To learn more, email me at email@example.com or give me a call at (707) 865-5157.