Posts tagged ‘LEED Certification’

LEED Certified Buildings Must Do Green Cleaning

A recent change to the indoor environmental quality section of the LEED Rating System mandates that buildings must implement a green cleaning policy in order to qualify for LEED Certification and re-certification. What this means is that companies and facility owners must approach cleaning in the same serious and committed fashion that they approach the building’s overall sustainability.

Healthy alternatives to traditional cleaners must also meet LEED standards in order to qualify. Such cleaning programs are highly accessible through the USGBC, International Sanity Supply Association, Green Seal, EPA, and other resources. One safe measure is to keep an eye out for labels that include caution statements such as “may cause severe eye irritation.” If these statements appear on a product label, the cleaning program probably does not qualify under LEED’s new standard. Some believe is costs less money to trade in traditional cleaning products for certified sustainable products than it does to pay for exposure control devices such as gloves, masks, goggles, and other methods of protection.

In addition, the new LEED standard asks suppliers to be fully transparent about the chemicals used in their products and then asks them to provide certified, safe alternative products. Under current U.S. regulations, cleaning product suppliers are not required to fully disclose chemicals in their products.

The updated 2012 LEED Rating System intends to ensure the long-term “staying power” of LEED Certification. In the process, the USGBC will be implementing more stringent criteria to help raise the bar for buildings.

January 17, 2012 at 3:01 pm Leave a comment

LEED Certification Project Submittal Tips

For anyone who has participated on a LEED-registered project, you are certainly aware of all the documentation that is involved in the process. You may be a LEED Green Associate or a LEED AP with Specialty, but no matter what your title is or how much experience you have in the building industry, it can be overwhelming and intimidating to submit a project for LEED Certification. You may be wondering what information the reviewers at the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) need to fully assess your work.

After years of individuals fretting over the LEED Certification project submittal process, the GBCI decided to post a set of LEED Project Submittal Tips for the five major commercial LEED rating systems, including both the current 2009 (v3) versions and the previous 2008 (or v2) versions.

These public documents share a wealth of tips for each credit and prerequisite. Before the GBCI made these documents available to all, individuals had to register with LEEDuser and consult the various Checklist tabs on the interface for credit guidance. Having a comprehensive resource like this, especially from the organization that ultimately determines the fate of your LEED project, will certainly benefit many who have worried and stressed over the process.

For those looking for more experience with LEED projects, Everblue Training Institute offers a class fully dedicated to earning LEED Project Experience. Not only do LEED Green Associates need project experience before attempting to achieve the LEED AP with Specialty status, but participating on a real project provides enhanced knowledge unmatched anywhere. Everblue assigns its students to a real project and walk them through the project submittal process every step of the way. Learn more about Everblue’s LEED Project Experience Online course.

What was once an overwhelming process has certainly been fine-tuned over time. There are a number of resources available to those who want experience working on a LEED project and who need guidance when going through the process. Take advantage of these resources so you can relax, enjoy the experience, and go through the project submittal process correctly the first time!

January 12, 2012 at 8:15 pm Leave a comment

LEED Certification More Affordable in 2012

Dan Probst, chairman of energy and sustainability at Jones Lang LaSalle, recently published a report in which he discussed the affordability of LEED Certification. For years, individuals criticized the LEED Certification process for being too costly. Probst now makes the case the LEED is the standard for building design and construction certainly in the United States, and potentially around the world.
Due to its massive growth and international acceptance, LEED Certification has become a more affordable process for those wanting to participate.In the beginning, LEED Certification was expensive. Just like any new product that fills individuals with excitement and apprehension, LEED was this mysterious and exclusive green building standard that was hot on the market. Architects, engineers, and other building professionals who wanted to be on the cutting edge of their industries looked into LEED Certification and were faced with question of whether or not to pursue it. It was so new, and the results weren’t exactly quantifiable. Was it worth it to spend so much?
In the beginning, LEED Certification was probably more of a marketing tool. It was a standard not 100% for reducing environmental impact but more for showing a commitment toward green building and sustainability. It was a status symbol to show that you were a building professional who went through extensive sustainability training, passed a challenging exam, gained a new certification, and went on to consult and advise others on how to implement sustainability into their business practices. Yes, LEED Certification was expensive back in the day, especially when you consider this reasoning.

Now, however, numerous sustainability reports have shown the effectiveness of LEED Certification. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has updated the LEED Rating System to make its certifications more impactful and substantial. By adjusting and validating the process, LEED Certification has found its way to the top. It is now standard for building professionals to be aware of the LEED Certification process and to make plans to pursue a certification.

Probst goes on to say, “It’s actually less expensive to design and build to the U.S. Green Building Council LEED standards today. Recycled building materials used to be rare, and cost more, but now they’re so common that they cost less. In other cases, the upfront cost of sustainable features is still higher, but the payback period is so short that it’s an easy call. A good example is lighting; if you need to retrofit a lighting system, LED may cost more but the savings in energy and labor costs are far greater than the upfront cost.”

When the iPod was first introduced, it cost hundreds of dollars. Now you can purchase one for less than $100. All new products are expensive in the beginning. It takes consumer passion and commitment to validate the product, but once it is proven to be legitimate and successful, the cost goes down.

The total amount of square feet of LEED certified space now stands at about 1.7 billion, and there’s still a long way to go. It’s much easier now to become involved in the LEED Certification process, so let’s continue this momentum!

January 9, 2012 at 1:18 pm Leave a comment

Making LEED Certification More Efficient

The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) is hoping to streamline the LEED Certification process to make it faster, with the goal of reducing the process to less than six months.

There is currently a backlog of projects waiting for LEED Certification approval. The CaGBC hope their new streamlined process will fix backlog problems and speed up the application process for participants.

Now that the CaGBC is seeing more demand for LEED Certification, they also see a need to create a more streamlined process. This is their attempt to better serve the market and encourage growth and expansion of LEED Certification across the country.

Changes include shortening the three-stage certification process to two stages for LEED Canada NC 1.0 and LEED Canada CS 1.0 projects, investing in more sophisticated technology to improve the administration of certification, and introducing a design review process. The CaGBC has also hired four new review teams to work on certifying projects and addressing backlogs.

These changes should make LEED Green Associates and LEED APs happy, as concerns have risen that LEED documentation is too confusing and that LEED Certification takes too long. The CaGBC changes should please the individuals who participate in LEED projects.

December 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm Leave a comment

More LEED Retrofits Than New Construction

The U.S. Green Building Council announced this month that LEED Certification for existing buildings has surpassed LEED Certification for new construction. The square footage of LEED certified existing buildings surpassed LEED certified new construction by 15 million square feet. The explosive growth of existing building retrofits since 2008 certainly illustrates a change in the sustainability and green building fields. Historically, LEED Certification for new construction (which corresponds with the LEED AP Building Design & Construction credential for individuals) was overwhelmingly most popular, both in volume and square footage. Over the last three years, however, existing building retrofits have taken off and become more commonplace than new construction. New construction in general has slowed down, and sustainability professionals have seen a need in the marketplace to retrofit the buildings we already own and operate to lower costs and increase efficiency.“The U.S. is home to more than sixty billion square feet of existing commercial buildings, and we know that most of those buildings are energy guzzlers and water sieves,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair of the U.S. Green Building Council, in a statement. “Greening these buildings takes hands-on work, creating precious jobs, especially for construction workers.” He goes on to note that making these existing buildings energy and water efficient has an enormous positive impact on the building’s cost of operations, while the improvements in indoor air quality that go with less toxic cleaning solutions and better filtration systems create healthier environments for those who live and work in such buildings.

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.

December 20, 2011 at 3:40 pm Leave a comment

Introducing the LEED Volume Program

The USGBC recently announced a new program that will streamline the LEED Certification process for multiple buildings. The LEED Volume Program, as it is called, is available for many of the LEED Rating Systems, including LEED AP Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (EBOM). The purpose of the program is to enable an organization to certify a large number of its existing buildings or new construction projects all at once. The LEED Volume Program establishes verifiable guidelines and simplifies the LEED documentation process.If an organization has integrated sustainable strategies into multiple buildings, they can apply the approved LEED prototype credit to the LEED Certifications of each building. Retailers and hotel chains with a prototypical building are well suited to participate in this program. The LEED Volume Program for existing buildings is compatible with a wide range of market sectors including commercial offices, hospitals, retail, government, and higher education.

This program will enable LEED Green Associates and LEED APs handling the documentation requirements of their LEED projects to meet bulk requirements. This makes the entire process less stressful for those in charge. An organization must define a prototype by choosing a set of prerequisites and credits that are common to all the projects it plans to certify. These can be either technical or managerial uniform practices. The GBCI will “precertify” a prototype or a series of prototypes. Project managers would then apply for certification of actual buildings, relying on the pre-approved documentation and providing additional information only for credits that differ from the prototype.

One stipulation of this streamlined process is that project managers must develop a quality control plan that outlines tools and processes that will be used to consistently meet the LEED credit requirements on all buildings that will be certified. The quality control plan will be accompanied by an education plan, to ensure all participants on the LEED project understand the green building strategies that are being implemented.

In theory, this is a great idea. It’ll be interesting to see how successful this program is. For individuals who are fully entrenched in the industry, and have acquired LEED accreditation, the LEED Volume Program must be a blessing to them. Those who understand the LEED documentation requirements inside and out will be thankful that the USGBC is giving them this opportunity to develop a prototype that will be applied to multiple projects. It will certainly reduce stress and, hopefully, the level of paperwork involved. I’m sure it will take a while to work out the kinks, but in the end, this should be a very simple and helpful program for LEED Certification.

December 15, 2011 at 1:07 pm Leave a comment

Nevada Has Most LEED Certified Buildings Per Capita

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently identified the state of Nevada as the leader in green building. The state has 10.92 square feet of LEED certified buildings per capita. New Mexico ranked second with 6.35 square feet per capita, followed by New Hampshire (4.49), Oregon (4.07), and South Carolina (3.19). So why is Nevada so determined, and how are builders maintaining this lead?Leon Mead, Las Vegas attorney and council member, indicates that developers are eligible for a variety of credits through the water district and power company if they build green buildings. The critical advantages, he says, are property tax and sales and use tax abatements. Unfortunately, these tax incentives from the state really only apply to commercial buildings, so as a result, there are more LEED projects in the commercial space than there are in residential buildings.

The Centennial Hills Library in northwest Las Vegas, which received 45 points in five environmental categories from the LEED Rating System, was identified as one of the most notable LEED certified projects in the nation.

The library’s exterior glazing, stone, stucco and metal shade structures result in a building reflective of the desert environment, the report said. Interior materials include low-maintenance terrazzo flooring, recyclable carpet, ecoresin panels and linoleum countertops.

Natural lighting reduces the need for electric lights during daylight hours, cutting down on heat gain and cooling costs. Other green elements include an extensive recycling program, water-efficient landscaping and automatic photocell-based controls.

Nevada continues to lead the way in green building by converting its existing buildings to LEED standards. The Sands Expo and Convention Center changed its heating, ventilation and air conditioning system and retrofitted low-flow toilets for LEED certification in maintenance and operations. Sometimes the existing building retrofits are even more special than the building design and construction phases. You get a real look at how much energy you are saving year-to-year.

To be clear, Nevada’s #1 ranking in the country was determined by measuring the amount of green building space per capita. Measuring green building per capita, or for every person, instead of by the number of projects or total square footage is a reminder that the people who use those buildings matter the most, council Senior Vice President Scot Horst said.

Congratulations to the commercial developers in Nevada, as well as the building professionals in New Mexico, New Hampshire, Oregon, and South Carolina! LEED Certification is fast becoming an industry standard. Through tax incentives and general awareness/acceptance, we’re likely to see even more green building in the coming years.

December 12, 2011 at 2:44 pm Leave a comment

Vestas “LEEDs” the Way in Europe

Vestas Wind Power Systems recently moved into their new headquarters in Aarhus, Denmark. The wind turbine manufacturer will soon be honored for having the first LEED Platinum certified building in Europe. This distinction creates a beautiful mix of passion toward wind energy and green building. Who better to set a standard than companies within similar industries?

The headquarters has been called the “House of Vestas” and will join an elite list of approximately 150 commercial buildings in the world that have also accomplished LEED Certification. The building features Denmark’s largest geothermal installation and uses only 50% as much energy as a similarly sized facility.

We’re excited about this announcement because it shows that the company is devoted to sustainability on levels beyond their immediate scope. Their U.S.-based headquarters in Portland is also aiming to achieve LEED Platinum Certification. We hope to see more companies, within the sustainability sector and not, who will look into the benefits of energy efficiency.

Not sure where to start? Afraid to admit that you are behind in the sustainability chatter? It’s time you learn more about green building, energy efficiency, and how the two intertwine. Navigate the LEED Rating System and learn everything you need to know to become an energy efficiency expert.

December 5, 2011 at 2:16 pm Leave a comment

Adobe’s Endeavor into LEED Certification

There are two things that Adobe and LEED have in common: they are both taking over the world! The software giant recently opened a sales office in Beijing, China, and announced its achievement of a LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

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.

December 1, 2011 at 1:14 pm 1 comment

LEED 2012: Faster, Cheaper, More Automatic

Since its inception in 1993, LEED has grown to include over 120,000 individuals from all over the world and has been used to build more than 3.6 billion square feet of space sustainably. The LEED certification and accreditation processes have greatly contributed to the growing interest – and ensuing standardization – of sustainable design in commercial buildings. However, now that LEED has become an industry norm, it seems reasonable to reevaluate the rating system and ensure that it is as effective as it claims to be.Having faced this issue in 2009, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) adjusted the LEED Rating System to accommodate the changing industry and meet the needs of individuals from all occupational backgrounds who wanted to learn about sustainability and green building. A little over two years later, the USGBC is having to consider making more changes to the LEED system. This time, the expected changes will be less about attracting new audiences and more about validating the effectiveness of the system as a whole.This discussion has come about as a result of engineers and project managers complaining that LEED points were too easy to achieve and sometimes did not make sense for the building’s overall sustainability. The LEED system may reward a larger number of points for a particular concept that has been integrated into the project, even when there are larger issues at hand that would benefit the building more. For example, many cited the fact that a bike rack earned points in a building that might have a faulty boiler. How can people take a building’s LEED certification status seriously if LEED project managers are only concerned with integrating attributes that will grant them the largest number of points?

It is with these concerns in mind that the USGBC is looking to develop its enhanced LEED Rating System, now being called LEED 2012. It is expected to launch in November and then go to USGBC members for a vote next summer.

One major update to the process is the addition of new technology and building practices that make real-time energy and water management commercially viable. The inability to track a LEED building’s energy savings over time has been a serious issue for those pursuing LEED Certification. For those investing so much time and money into the process, they need to be able to show documented proof that the investment was worth it. Similarly, building owners and project managers see the value in comparing their building’s energy savings to similar buildings in the area. The USGBC is working with a database called the Green Building Information Gateway, which allows an owner to tap into comparable data from similar buildings. Essentially, LEED 2012 aims to take LEED Certification to the next level.

These early predictions surrounding LEED 2012 demonstrate the USGBC’s dedication to sustainability and consumer satisfaction. It seems this revamped system will address much of the criticism that has come to surface in the last two years. We expect LEED 2012 standards to add value to a building’s LEED Certification status via post-certification reporting and new recertification requirements. We also want to commend the USGBC for acknowledging the changing needs of the industry and always striving for the most comprehensive and progressive green building standard.

November 22, 2011 at 8:39 pm Leave a comment

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