More Green Buildings via LEED Certification

Updated: May 28


The demand for more sustainable buildings is growing. The combined effects from growth in environmental legislation and the demand from tenants and shareholders to reduce environmental impacts are requiring property managers to both understand and take responsibility for the environmental performance of their facility. LEED or (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to set a benchmark for design, construction, maintenance, and operation of high-performance green buildings and homes.


LEED Certification is the most widely used global standard that recognizes buildings that are efficient, cost-effective, and better for occupants and the environment.

LEED certification can be applied to new or existing buildings and homes looking to become sustainable.


LEED certification is beneficial for occupants and the environment. Green buildings are becoming increasingly important and tenants are demanding more sustainable buildings. LEED certification will enhance a facility’s image and establish them as a leader in green building. Because sustainable buildings are more positively perceived in today’s market, they will be able to charge higher lease rates. Green buildings also cost less to operate. They use fewer resources like water and energy and generate less waste, leading to decreased utility costs.


Energy, water and raw materials that are utilized for the construction of buildings, including renovation, repurposing, and demolition, creates waste and emit toxic atmospheric emissions. 2 Thus, arose the need to establish standards (a set of guidelines/criteria where a product can be arbitrated to), certifications, sustainable building designs, and rating systems to alleviate the negative impact of buildings on the natural environment. 2 The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), provides a structure to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings. 3 Projects pursuing LEED certification earn points for various categories, including:


Location & Transportation3

Sustainable Sites3

Water Efficiency3

Energy & Atmosphere3

Materials & Resources3

Indoor Environmental Quality3

Innovation3


Based on the number of points achieved, a project then earns one of four LEED rating levels:

Certified (40-49 points earned) 3

Silver (50-59 points earned) 3

Gold (60-79 points earned) 3

Platinum (80+ points earned) 3

This process is aimed to encourage project teams to seek innovative resolutions that supports public health and our environment. 3 The following three fundamental elements can help you attain LEED certification for your project. 3

LEED Prerequisites - Prerequisites set the minimum requirements that all buildings need to meet in order to achieve LEED certification. 3 Fulfilling the requirements of prerequisites will not earn points. 3

LEED Credits - You can go for any credit you want within your chosen rating system, as long as it applies to your project type. 3 Certain credits have certain prerequisites which is called an integrated process. Credits earn you points. 3

LEED Points - The more points one accrues, the higher the reward ranging from healthier spaces to buildings that save money and resources. 3 The number of points a project earns determines the level of LEED certification it receives. 3


Requirements found in standards may either be prescriptive (identifying methods of achievement) or performance based (stating expectations of end results). 2 Generally, there are three kinds of assessments:


A first-party assessment which comes directly from an organization that is associated with the entity making the claim or who may benefit from the claim. 2


A second-party assessment is derived by an interested party, like a trade association. 2


A third-party assessment is steered by an independent party that has no financial interest or ties to the outcome of the assessment. 2


Also, there are four ethics that should be reflected in an evaluation of a building rating or certification system:

Science-based — Results and decisions must be reproducible by others using the same standard. 2

Transparent — Standards and process for awarding the certification should be transparent and open for examination. 2

Objective — Certification body should be free of conflict. 2

Progressive — Standards should advance industry practices, not simply reward business as usual.2


A property manager, would be most concerned with the operations and maintenance rating system. This rating system is for buildings that are fully operational and occupied for at least one year. The easiest and most cost-effective points within the operations and maintenance rating system they can work to achieve are:


- Indoor Environmental Quality: Implementing and Adhering to a Green Cleaning Policy

- Materials and Resources: Monitoring Waste Performance & Purchasing and Using Environmentally Preferable Products and Equipment

- Water Efficiency: Improve Water Performance


1. Indoor Environmental Quality

Implementing and Adhering to a Green Cleaning Policy: Implementing and adhering to a Green Cleaning Policy is essential to earning green cleaning points. Green cleaning will help reduce the levels of chemical, biological, and particulate contaminants in your building. A Green Cleaning Policy will establish guidelines for efficient and effective cleaning procedures and the regulations for using environmentally preferable commercial cleaning supplies and janitorial power equipment. One can achieve up to 3 points for successfully implementing a Green Cleaning Policy.

2. Materials and Resources

Monitoring Waste Performance: This category is meant to track and reduce the amount of waste from your facility and it’s occupants. One way to reduce waste is by implementing storage locations for recyclable materials, including mixed paper, corrugated cardboard, glass, plastics, and metals throughout your facility. You can achieve 3-8 points.


Purchasing and Using Environmentally Preferable Products and Equipment: This section is to encourage the purchase of products which lower the number of unsustainable products and equipment being used throughout your facility. To earn these points, supplies, and equipment should be made from recycled materials, bio-based materials, or be third-party certified to confirm they have a reduced effect on human health and the environment. Commercial cleaning supplies and janitorial cleaning equipment can be certified by various third-party organizations to confirm their reduced effect on human health and the environment. Cleaning supplies can be certified by the EPA, ASTM, Green Seal, and more. Janitorial power equipment can be certified by ENERGY STAR, Carpet and Rug Institute Seal of Approval, and others. One can achieve up to 4 points in this category.


4. Water Efficiency

Improve Water Performance: Water performance is about monitoring and reducing the overall amount of water your building uses. An example of one way your facility can lower water consumption is by installing high-efficiency fixtures such as auto flushers or hands free faucets.

One can earn 6-15 points for improved water management.


Resources:

  1. LEED green building certification. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://new.usgbc.org/leed


  1. Green Building Standards and Certification Systems. (2016, September 12). Retrieved from https://www.wbdg.org/resources/green-building-standards-and-certification-systems


  1. https://www.ebpsupply.com/blog/what-is-leed-certification




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