Posts tagged ‘green building’
One of the most common questions we see is, “How do I get started with LEED?” LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the leading green building standard around the world. If you’re working in the architecture, engineering, or construction industries, you’ve probably heard the acronym tossed around by your colleagues. Before you dive into the rabbit role of Google searches (because trust me, there will be THOUSANDS of websites about LEED Certification), let’s go over the major things you need to know.
History of LEED
The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) created the LEED standard in 1993 to set a benchmark for the design, construction, and operations of “green” buildings. Since its inception, LEED has undergone a series of updates in order to stay relevant and provide effective solutions for the future.
Enter LEED Version 4
We’re now in the fourth version of the LEED standard. The LEED v4 exams debuted on June 30, 2014. Anyone who pursues LEED at this point will be preparing for a LEED v4 credential.
Speaking of Credentials…
The first step you will take to enter the LEED industry is to earn a LEED Green Associate credential. This designation is required for all green building professionals who want to pursue LEED. The LEED Green Associate designation is for anyone who wants an understanding of basic green building principles.
What Comes Next?
After you earn your LEED Green Associate, you have two options.
If you are satisfied at the LEED Green Associate level, you will need to work toward acquiring 15 hours of continuing education over the next two years. That’s all it takes to maintain your credential. This must be done every two years.
If you are interested in diving deeper into the LEED industry, you might consider earning an advanced LEED credential, known as a LEED Accredited Professional with Specialty. There are five specialties to be had – Building Design and Construction, Operations and Maintenance, Interior Design and Construction, Homes, and Neighborhood Development. As you can see, each of these specialties aligns with different roles or goals in the green building process. Should you decide to pursue a LEED AP credential, your continuing education requirements increase to 30 hours over two years.
Let’s Take a Step Back
If you’re reading this article, you are probably brand new to the industry or fairly new to LEED. To get started, you will want to enroll in a LEED training course – a LEED Green Associate course, to be specific. In this class, you will get an introduction to LEED and learn about the concepts that will be on the credentialing exam. Following your LEED exam prep course, you will schedule your LEED exam at a nearby Prometric Testing Center. The LEED Green Associate exam has 100 multiple-choice questions. You will be required to score 170 out of 200 to pass.
Right now, you may be feeling overwhelmed, but I promise, it doesn’t have to be this way. The great thing about taking an exam prep course is that you not only hone in on the exam concepts, but you’ll gain a holistic view of why LEED is important, how it benefits the environment, what you can do with a LEED credential, and information about the exam interface. The purpose of an exam prep course is to put you at ease and make the process of acquiring a LEED designation less stressful! And it works, too. Check out our reviews page where our students talk about how effectiveness their LEED exam prep course was. To find the closest LEED course to you, please visit our LEED Green Associate Training page.
Three high-profile LEED: Existing Buildings O&M skyscraper retrofits in recent years are the case in point: the Empire State Building (New York City), Taipei 101 (Taipei) and the Transamerica Pyramid (San Francisco). Green upgrades to these buildings have resulted not only in certification, but in energy savings of $4.4 million, $700,00 and $700,000, respectively.
If you are looking to achieve your LEED Accreditation, it might behoove you to learn about the LEED AP Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance credential. This is the direction green building is going, for now. Until new construction ramps up, it is certainly of paramount importance to retrofit the buildings we currently use to become more sustainable.
There are many noteworthy parts of this announcement, including the fact that this is Adobe’s first LEED Certification outside the United States, this is one of only 24 LEED Certified buildings in Beijing, and one of only 160 LEED Certified buildings in all of China. Taking these accomplishments into consideration, it seems Adobe has proven to the world that they have a firm commitment to sustainability and green building.
Some of the innovative actions that the Adobe team took to achieve LEED Certification in the Beijing office include:
• Reducing water consumption by 88%
• Realizing a 26% savings on lighting energy
• Reducing CO2 emissions by 2,772 KG/year
• Reusing furniture and lighting fixtures as much as possible
• Using “Cool Carpet” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
• Implementing green housekeeping with green-sealed products and recycling
• Using low-emitting construction materials to maintain a favorable indoor environment
Adobe staff proudly states that they will continue to work on improving their understanding of sustainability and demonstrating this understanding in their office environments. They are looking forward to partnering with experts around the world to learn, innovate, and continuously evolve.
Southern Builders v. Shaw has surfaced as one of the first major lawsuits regarding LEED certification. The suit illustrates the critical importance of clear contract language for each stakeholder on a green construction project.
The lawsuit concerns the construction of a $7.5 million, 23-unit condominium project in Crisfield, Maryland, called the Captain’s Galley, which was completed back in 2006. The development includes a number of green design features that were intended to garner enough points to receive a LEED Silver rating.
Southern Builders foreclosed on the project. Shaw Development then countersued, partly because the building did not receive the expected LEED rating it was supposed to, which meant that Shaw lost green-tax credits under Maryland’s green building program.
Maryland offers state tax credits of up to 8 percent of a project’s total cost for buildings greater than 20,000 square feet. Only LEED projects are eligible to apply for the credits. The program requires applicants to first submit an Initial Credit Certificate Application to the Maryland Energy Administration. MEA then reviews the application and issues an Initial Credit Certificate, which sets forth the project’s maximum credit amount and sets an expiration date by which the project must receive a Final Credit Certificate.
Projects can only apply for the Final Credit Certificate upon receiving a certificate of occupancy after construction is complete, and a LEED AP must submit an Eligibility Certificate to MEA stating that the building meets the criteria necessary to receive the tax credit (i.e., it meets the requirements to qualify for a LEED Silver rating). However, if the Initial Credit Certificate expires prior to the project obtaining its Final Credit Certificate, the available credits are put back into the program’s pool, the project slides back in line, and must reapply to MEA.
It does not appear that there was language in the contract documents obligating Southern to secure any formal certification from USGBC. With respect to the tax credits, Southern was required to deliver a Certificate of Occupancy within 336 calendar days from the date of the agreement.
In the countersuit, Shaw alleged claims in both negligence and breach of contract against Southern for, among other failures, the contractor’s failure to “construct an environmentally sound ‘green building’ in conformance with the LEED rating system.” However, there was no detail in Shaw’s papers describing precisely how Southern was responsible for the $635,000.00 in lost tax credits.
Presumably, Southern failed to deliver the project to Shaw such that the latter could obtain a certificate of occupancy by the date specified in the Initial Credit Certificate; according to Shaw’s papers, the project remained incomplete “[n]early nine (9) months after the required completion date” (i.e., the 336 calendars specified in the A101).
The total amount in damages that Shaw sought was approximately $1.3 million. The damages it sought for the lost tax credits were the largest under any of its claims.
Though the Circuit Court judge did set the case for trial sometime in August of 2007, it appears that the matter has since settled out of court. Since no official decision was made, a precedent has not been set.
The critical lesson from the lawsuit is that there is no one-size-fits-all form agreement for a green construction project. What was needed here was a thorough understanding of existing state legislation. This legislation, when properly upheld, leads to tax credit in the case of a LEED project. Note to all contractors and project managers: do your research on any state or local legislation that requires a particular order of events prior to LEED certification. You will want to follow the necessary steps to achieve your certification, tax credit, or any other incentive.