The mere phrase can evoke a myriad of impressions depending on one’s understanding or concept of sustainable practices. For some, it means the day-to-day habits and practices that are designed to minimize one’s footprint on the planet and their impact on the environment. For others, it evokes the idea of sustainable structures and infrastructure.
And, while both are part of the umbrella concept of “green living,” a focus on creating healthier, more sustainable buildings is at the heart of LEED Certification.
LEED Certification: Why It Matters for Green Living
Perhaps a brief definition of LEED is needed here first.
LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the world’s most widely used green building rating system. LEED certification is available for almost every building type and provides a framework for healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings.
The U.S. Green Building Council, for example, points out that LEED helps investors implement management practices to prioritize building efficiency, decrease operational costs, increase asset value, and ensure productivity. And to be a legitimate LEED project, being LEED certified is necessary.
In fact, according to the blog DOZRHUB,
“When it comes to LEED Certification benefits for the environment, the numbers speak for themselves. LEED Certified buildings, according to the USGBC, have 34% less CO2 emissions, consume 25% less energy and 11% less water than non-certified buildings. Green construction uses fewer resources and minimizes waste.”
LEED can be applied to all building types, both commercial as well as residential, and is involved throughout the building lifecycle. This means from design and construction to operations and maintenance, and tenant fit-out through any significant retrofit.
Boston University offers a brief description of LEED’s certification process,
“LEED provides a point system to score green building design and construction. The system is categorized in five basic areas: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, and Indoor Environmental Quality. Buildings are awarded points based on the extent various sustainable strategies are achieved. The more points awarded the higher the level of certification achieved from Certified, Silver, Gold, to Platinum.”
While the emphasis can sometimes be on commercial construction, LEED is equally valuable for homes, as well.
As TheBalanceSMB.com site notes,
“For residential construction companies, LEED certification can help homes sell faster and for a higher price. Homebuilders can often receive tax credits for building LEED-certified homes.”
Best Practices for Green Living
There are many resources for tips and best practices to cultivate a green living lifestyle, especially for homeowners and residential tenants. We’ve brought together several of the most significant “best practices” in terms of both energy and cost savings.
Here are a few tips from Direct Energy:
Replacing outdated appliances or electronics with Energy Star models is a cost-saving, green-living upgrade that doesn’t require any change in lifestyle. The bigger the appliance, the larger the savings, but even replacing the home’s outdated incandescent light bulbs with Energy Star LED bulbs can save $30-80 over the lifetime of each light.
Turning off the lights in an empty room is an energy-saving tip that predates the green-living movement, but it remains a good habit to follow for those interested in an eco-friendly lifestyle. In addition, those interested in conserving energy should reserve artificial light for tasks that require it. Opening the curtains to welcome sunlight during the day can often provide all the light that is necessary. At night, try to go as long as possible before finally turning the lights on.
Adjusting the home’s water heater to between 120 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit (48 and 54 degrees Celsius) reduces the energy and financial expense required to run the appliance. As a side benefit, you reduce your risk of scalding by using the lower temperature. It’s also more eco-friendly to opt for cold water rather than hot when washing clothing.
In addition to reducing energy use, green living practices can reduce the use of water, paper, and other resources.
Another resource for sustainable living tips, GlobalStewards.org, offer up these ideas:
In general, think before you buy any product – do you really need it? How did the production of this product impact the environment and what further impacts will there be with the disposal of the product (and associated packaging materials)?
Wherever possible, replace disposable products with reusable ones (i.e., razor, food storage, batteries, ink cartridges (buy refill ink), coffee filters, furnace or air conditioner filters, etc.).
Whenever possible, make your own products to cut down on waste and control the materials used.
Avoid products that are packaged for single use (i.e., drinks, school lunches, candy, cat and dog food, salad mixings, etc.). Instead, buy in bulk and transfer the products to your own reusable containers. Many health food stores have bulk bins where they sell everything from grains to cereal to cleaning products.
Ensuring green living ideally involves both personal habits and practices as well as the design, construction, and maintenance of your residence.
Looking for LEED Certification Advice and Guidance?
Green living is not only attainable, but sustainable. And an experienced and knowledgeable professional can make the process much easier for homeowners, contractors, and business owners who want to benefit by implementing green and sustainable building practices.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at (707) 865-5157.