LEED Green Building Certification

Trends in green and sustainable building are thriving as home owners and progressive developers seek to use less energy more efficiently to heat and cool their space - be it a home dwelling, office building, school, commercial space or retail space. The industry standard in the green building space is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) designed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

Developed in 2000 to help the construction industry define green building, LEED is a rating system for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of high-performance green buildings, homes and neighborhoods. An open and transparent process, LEED certification offers third-party validation of a project's green features and verifies that the building is operating exactly the way it was retrofitted or designed to. Available for all building types - new construction and major renovation; existing buildings; commercial interiors; core and shell; schools and homes - there is, according to USGBC, more than 4.5 billion square feet of construction space involved with the LEED system.

According to USGBC, "LEED-certified buildings blend environmental, economic and occupant-oriented performance". LEED-certified buildings are designed to lower operating costs and increase asset value, reduce waste, conserve energy and water, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and be healthier and safer for the occupants.

Because of the savings on the bottom line, LEED-certified buildings are attracting attention from a growing number of developers and buyers who want lower operating costs and healthier indoor environments. The opportunity for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives are also very attractive.

Created around a point-based system where building projects earn points for meeting specific criteria, LEED green building certification demonstrates a commitment to environmental protection through sustainable building. A building earns points in six categories: sustainable sites; water efficiency; energy and atmosphere; materials and resources; indoor environmental quality; and green design innovations. Within these categories are specific environmental goals, including storm water management, water-use reduction, construction waste management, and indoor chemical and pollutant source control. In addition, there are additional "earned" credits for neighborhood development and homes.

The number of points a building earns determines its rating - certified, silver, gold or platinum. There are 100 base points with six possible points in "innovation in design" and four "regional priority" points, green building strategies that address the important environmental issues facing the region where construction takes place. LEED points are earned based on strategies that will have greater positive impacts on energy efficiency and CO2 reductions. For commercial buildings and neighborhoods to earn LEED certification a project must satisfy all LEED pre-requisites and earn a minimum of 40 points on a 110-point LEED rating system scale; homes must earn a minimum of 45 points on a 136-point scale.

Earning a LEED green building certification involves various costs, from the pre-planning to the build-out to application. Before you apply for certification you will need to figure out which energy efficient improvements you want to make to your structure, or if you want to completely redesign an energy-efficient building from scratch. Then you must decide which rating system you will use and prepare your certification application accordingly. Applications differ depending on the building type and the LEED credits you want to pursue. Upon registering the project you will pay a registration fee ($900 for USGBC members; $1200 for non-members). Once the certification application is submitted, a certification review fee will be charged. This fee is determined based on the building type and square footage.

It is highly recommended that you hire LEED-accredited professionals to work with you. Advanced Control Corp. is one such company that is leading the way in LEED certification, building automation solutions and energy savings. The company provides progressive solutions for building automation, energy management, access control and CCTV systems for buildings of all sizes. An industry leader in building automation and LEED-certified buildings in South Florida, Advanced Control Corp. is a recognized member of USGB.

LEED-certified projects are one of the fastest-growing sectors in the green economy. "In communities around the globe, leaders from every sector of the building industry are reinventing their local landscapes with buildings that enliven and bolster the health of our environment, communities and local economies," said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of the USGBC.

Kermit sings it's not easy being green. But in today's world, being green is fast-becoming the mainstream, and it should be a top priority for everyone worldwide.

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