Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is where our future is headed, whether you are in real estate, engineering, or architecture, as it will be an important selling and designing attribute. LEED Certification is ranked by a point system, where credits are given based on what is accomplished in a specific category.
LT = LOCATION & TRANSPORTATION
'Location, location, location' they say - it's everything. This category is based on the most accessible and appropriate location based on the building type. Did you know that you can actually gain points for having your building next to a bus stop? It promotes the idea of individuals taking public transportation as opposed to commuting back and forth by car each day. Less cars on the road = less emissions in our atmosphere.
SS = SUSTAINABLE SITES
Sustainable sites may sound very broad This category focuses on the areas within the property. This could mean protecting wetlands nearby, implementing courtyards and open space for tenants, how much light pollution the building gives off, and managing rainwater. A vegetated roof is becoming more and more popular for buildings these days. It just makes sense to capture a water source since it is dropping on the building anyways!
WE = WATER EFFICIENCY
Water is so much more valuable than people recognize. Access to fresh, drinking water is a luxury in North America. This category is all about the reduction of water use. Water fixtures are an important concept to a LEED building. A LEED building needs to find the most strategic ways to reduce water use. Old homes and buildings have so many leaky faucets and low-efficiency toilets. Even a small change like this can save plenty of water over a long period of time.
EA = ENERGY & ATMOSPHERE
Climate change is a HUGE deal. How energy affects the atmosphere can drastically change our environment and human health. A LEED building needs to be conscious of how they are using their energy. A very efficient building can have net zero-energy building, where the total amount of energy used is equivalent to the total amount of renewable energy. Imagine a see-saw - one person is a child and the other person is an adult. The adult's side is closer to the ground but with the addition of more children (energy) the see-saw can be in balance. This cycle will continue over time as variables change.
EQ = INDOOR ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
Indoor air quality can be affected by temperature, acoustics, light, and air pressure. Materials in a building make a significant difference on these variables. Thermal comfort for occupants has proven to enhance productivity. Acoustics may be important for noise surrounding various offices or separate floors and rooms. Light efficiency can enrich the occupant's productivity and contribute to saving energy for light. The indoor environmental quality category has so many different options for points. LEED also encourages designers to implement their own ideas if they can demonstrate how it complies with the category.
ID = INNOVATION IN DESIGN
Innovation in Design is a category that allows the designer to go 'above and beyond' performing something that has never been completed before or exceeds expectations. Examples of the subcategories that could exceed expectations are water reduction, recycling techniques, parking, renewable energy, the list goes on!
RP = REGIONAL PRIORITIES
LEED Buildings can be Certified (40-49 points), Silver (50-59 points), Gold (60-79 points), or Platinum (80+ points). But people can also become LEED Certified!
Lorne Mlotek is the President & CEO of LeadingGreen. He created a program to provide seminars in different cities throughout North America to help individuals succeed in their LEED exam. Click below for more information!