As the standard in green building best practices, the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system is the world’s preeminent green building rating program, with 1.5 million square feet of building space certified to LEED every day. LEED version 3, also known as LEED 2009, is now up for revision as USGBC members cooperate to vote on its next iteration, LEED v4.
Before going into detail about the LEED Green Associate accreditation, let us quickly remind you, as we already went through it in previous articles, what LEED is. LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification, providing guidelines on the development of sustainable buildings. There are several ways for an individual to be certified and recognized as a LEED expert and the LEED Green Associate accreditation is the first step, the one that will open you the door. Read the rest of this entry »
Hospitals in the U.S are known to be among the largest consumers of energy. They are open 24 hours, have hundreds of people living and circulating in the buildings everyday and in addition to the usual systems that AC, Heating or Ventilation, they require high energy consumption machinery such as Refrigeration, Sterilization or Medical devices to run all day. Hospitals come third, only after food service and food sales, in terms of consumption of energy. But the energy consumption is not the only problem Hospitals currently face, water consummation and waste management are issues that Healthcare facilities must consider and resolve. Such high consumptions could persuade some of these hospitals to take actions and lean toward the LEED certification model.
In recent years, the idea of “Green Homes” has moved beyond the niche that it once was to the mainstream because of overwhelming evidence that they benefit the homeowners’ pockets, their health and the environment. Homeowners are recognizing that building their home to be more energy efficient and healthier is a wise investment for themselves and the community. Even those who have lived in a home for a long time are having it retrofitted with sustainable features to lower their bills and improve their health. Here is a list of the top 5 features that every Green Home should have. Of course, there is no strict definition of a green home and there is unlimited creativity that can be used to make a home “green,” but these should not be missed.
1) Holistic Approach
The most important “feature” that any green home can have should be included before construction even begins. That is, an integrated, holistic approach that takes every aspect of both sustainable and traditional building knowledge into account. Seeing the building through a wide lens, as an interrelated system in which everything is considered to determine the true performance of the building is crucial to being truly “green.” The whole house approach takes often over-looked aspects into account; construction site sustainability, long-term durability, waste stream, performance monitoring, occupant health and comfort, and carbon footprint, along with the more obvious motives of energy and water efficiency.
Some like to think of each new plot of land for a new building as a small factory where, on average, 22,000 components are needed. Just like real factories are moving towards “lean manufacturing” techniques, which systematically looks at each step of the process and removes any flaws, the ideal green home will have been well thought-out and coordinated. Ideally, the designer would perform a whole-house computer simulation that compares multiple combinations of variables to arrive at the most cost-effective and sustainable solution.
The decision to apply for LEED Certification is both exciting and daunting for designers and managers. Having your building recognized by the USGBC is a badge of honor in the design and construction industry, but it also means more planning, measuring and upfront costs. What’s more, a simple “LEED Certified” designation no longer holds the same weight as it once did; in fact, the most common designation is now LEED Gold. This requires getting at least 60 out of the 110 possible points under the current LEED rating system. Points vary tremendously in ease and cost, so make sure not to miss any of the low hanging fruits in this list. Also, you shouldn’t worry about whether these options will still be available under LEED V4; a project can still apply to the current system, LEED 2009, until mid-2015.
1. Include a principal participant with a LEED Accreditation
In terms of ease and benefit, the number one thing any project should do is to make sure you have a LEED AP on the team. LEED AP’s have passed the LEED Green Associate and LEED AP Exams, as well as documented experience on a project seeking LEED Certification. They will have the expertise required to design a building to LEED standards and to coordinate the application process. LEED APs also go through continuing education to ensure they understand the latest in integrated design and how to consider interactions between the various credit categories. Remember that they must have a LEED AP designation, which tests for advanced knowledge of a particular rating system; not simply a LEED Green Associate, which only tests a fundamental understanding of green buildings.
Are you going to GreenBuild 2012?
If so, you’ll be in good company. The 11th annual gathering of all those involved in ‘building green’ into the national fabric looks set to be the biggest yet – with 35,000 architects, facility managers, educators and green innovators expected to talk, walk and network their way around the Moscone Convention Center (LEED Gold certified of course).
After last year’s excursion north of the border (up to Canada’s Toronto), GreenBuild 2012 finds itself heading west, to what many consider the spiritual home of the green economy and environmentally-sensitive building – California’s Bay Area. Both innovator and leader, San Fransisco’s downtown area now has over a third of its commercial stock certified to LEED standard, or the equivalent.
Running from the 12th to the 16th of November (with the Expo open on the 14th and 15th), Greenbuild 2012 will be offering up the usual mix of exhibitions, educational opportunities, first-class speakers, exemplary eco-building tours and the chance to hook into the latest happenings on the green building scene. Two complementary conferences are planned, the National Affordable Green Homes & Sustainable Communities Summit, which seeks a sustainability that is fully socially-inclusive; and VERGE, the green-ideas-festival looking to catalyze a radical urban transformation.
An emerging new trend among attorneys is appending “LEED AP” to the “JD” already behind their name. The acronym stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional”, and a LEED AP is an individual who is certified by the Green Building Certification Institute as having demonstrated expert knowledge of green buildings and the LEED rating systems.
Colleges and universities are in a particularly advantageous position to foster sustainability in the short and long term. Their decisions regarding energy, transportation, construction and operations can have real effects on the surrounding community, and collectively, the nation as a whole. Moreover, the inclusion of sustainability in the curriculum and activities of students will help shape a more eco-conscious society as we move forward. There are many different metrics that can be used to define sustainability, but in terms of resource efficiency and human health, LEED certified buildings can serve as a good measuring stick for a school’s commitment to sustainability. In no particular order, here are 10 universities that have demonstrated a willingness to be leaders in the field.
California Polytechnic State University
– Cal Poly is a leader in curriculum focused on sustainability; they currently offer over 170 courses with an emphasis on sustainability. In addition to educating the next generation of sustainable experts, they have made a strong commitment to LEED for their own campus. All new facilities are designed to be equivalent to a LEED Certified level of sustainability, with the goal of each project achieving LEED Silver or higher. Cal Poly was awarded LEED Silver certification for their Faculty Office East building in 2008 and LEED Gold certification for their Poly Canyon Village student housing in 2009, resulting in over 25% of the campus square footage being LEED certified. Moreover, the Poly Canyon Village project diverted 94% of the non-hazardous construction and demolition waste from landfills.
Total Number of LEED Certified Buildings – 11
Combined Square Footage LEED Certified – 1,425,794 sq. feet (25% of total area)
From lawyers who now need to demonstrate a working knowledge of LEED to handle specific cases, to those in the hospitality industry who need to speak coherently about the green features of their hotel or resort, those in non-technical industries are looking to be LEED accredited and often don’t know where to start. In addition, as LEED solidifies itself in the global green building market, more technical industries, such as HVAC, electricians and plumbers are looking to become LEED accredited.
So let’s start from square one. What is LEED Certification?
Looking for a simple, cost-effective way to provide yourself and your employees enhanced working conditions and better light quality, while improving energy efficiency for your company? Why not upgrade your existing lighting fixtures with more efficient models? It’s one of the easiest projects available to reduce energy consumption.
In January of this year, the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) published its 2010 U.S. Lighting Market Characterization report, which showed that at the end of 2010 there were 941 million T12 lamps in use, with 410.5 million of these present in commercial buildings. T12 lamps are quite inefficient, and homes and businesses could benefit greatly by replacing them with T8 lamps and ballasts. In fact, the approximate savings per year in energy when retrofitting these T12 lamps with the more efficient models would be $1.52 billion per year, with energy and cost savings of approximately 30 percent.