As we become more aware of our environmental impact on planet earth, we are coming into contact with more and more clients and peers who are inquiring about “green” building and LEED points. We have included this informative article about the subject to help people better understand what LEED points are and how they can get involved in “green” building.
LEED™ Green Building Rating System 2009 Explained The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building rating system was originally developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) to provide a recognized standard for the construction industry to assess the environmental sustainability of building designs. Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC) has since adapted the USGBC LEED rating system to the specific concerns and requirements of buildings in Canada.
LEED is a point-based rating system; points are earned for building attributes considered environmentally beneficial. LEED differs from other rating systems in that it has quantified most of the “green credits.” For example, 10% of the building materials must contain recycled content to achieve the recycled content credit.
LEED has 110 points covering seven topic areas. Each topic area has a statement of associated goals.
Site Development: minimize storm water run-off, encourage car pooling and bicycling, increase urban density and green space Water Efficiency: eliminate site irrigation, reduce water consumption, minimize or treat wastewater Energy Efficiency: reduce building energy consumption, use renewable energy, eliminate ozone-depleting chemicals, commission building systems Material Selection: minimize construction waste, re-use existing building façade, use locally recycled and salvaged materials, use renewable construction materials Indoor Environmental Quality: incorporate daylighting, use low off-emitting materials, provide operable windows and occupant control of work space, improve delivery of ventilation air Innovation in Design: use a LEED Accredited Professional, greatly exceed the requirements of a credit, incorporate innovative environmental features not covered in other areas, develop a green education plan. Regional Priority: target issues of environmental importance based on geographical locations as well as designing and constructing more durable buildings
Designers can pick and choose the credits most appropriate to their project to achieve a rating. LEED has four performance ratings:
|40 to 49 points: Certified||50 to 59 points: Silver|
|60 to 79 points: Gold||80 or more points: Platinum|
In addition to different levels of achievement, there are different types of certification. Besides the traditional LEED-NC (New Construction), there is LEED-EBOM (Existing Buildings), LEED-ND (Neighbourhood Development), LEED-CI (Commercial Interiors), LEED-CS (Core and Shell), and LEED for Homes.
The LEED system can be used in three ways to improve the “green-ness” of a building design: LEED can serve as a design guide for the design team. The LEED credit system is a systematic way of ensuring that the most important environmental issues are considered during the design of a building.
LEED reports are a valuable means of showing the client and other interested parties that the design has effectively addressed environmental issues. A building design can be certified by the USGBC or CaGBC.
Certification provides increased market exposure and places the building in elite company among the greenest buildings in North America. LEED registration fees can cost as little as 54 cents a square foot. In addition, LEED requires calculations and documentation to validate each credit claimed.
LEED is the most recognized green building rating system in North America. There are over 2,000 buildings that have been registered with the CaGBC. Many developers, particularly those working on federal government and leading-edge private sector buildigs, are requiring that building designs meet LEED Silver performance. Given that conventional new buildings would likely score only a few LEED points, achievement of any LEED level represents a significant reduction in building environmental impact and improvement of indoor environment. The Canadian version of LEED is similar to the US version with the exception that energy efficiency is relative to the Canadian Model Energy Code for Buildings.
The larger benefit of LEED buildings is an improved indoor environment (lower absenteeism, greater productivity, better thermal comfort), lower maintenance costs (commissioned building, more durable materials, smaller or eliminated building systems), higher corporate profile (increased product sales, marketing advantage, improved employee morale), and reduced risk of remedial measures (to deal with sick building syndrome or environmental contaminants). The table below summarizes typical costs and payback periods for LEED buildings. The payback includes only annual utility energy savings.
|Energy Savings||25 to 35%||35 to 50%||50 to 60%||>60%|
|Annual Utility Savings||$0.75/ft2||$1.00/ft2||$1.25/ft2||$1.50/ft2|
|Typical Payback||Under 3 yrs||3-5 yrs||5-10 yrs||10+ years|
|Incremental Construction Cost|
This article was taken from the Enermodal Engineering website, a company based in Canada who specializes in green building and LEED points. We have no affiliation with this company but have found this article to cut right to the heart of a very complex and sometimes overwhelming subject.