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.
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.
The immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy is affording little time to think about the big picture. With neighborhoods underwater, toppled trees lining the streets, the stock exchange locked, and the dependable New York public transportation closed indefinitely; most people don’t have time to worry about the lasting impacts of this storm.
But when the worst hurricane since the 1800’s hits the north east coast only one year after a tropical storm swept across the same unlikely area, people begin to take notice. Governor Cuomo may have offered the most poignant sentiment: “Anyone who thinks that there is not a dramatic change in weather patterns is denying reality. We have a new reality, and old infrastructures and old systems.”
Obviously, this “new reality” comes as little surprise to climatologists, who have understood for two decades that the rising temperature of the earth will bring on more extreme weather, more often. While scientists are hesitant to contribute any single event solely to climate change, the idea that storms like this will become more frequent and intense is hard to imagine for many in the northeast. Although the debate still rages in political circles about the reality of global warming, the laws that govern the climate tend not to care. Fortunately, those who have recognized the threat of climate change have set out to reduce our carbon emissions, so that we may avoid the worst of these disasters in the future.