Posts tagged ‘leed rating system’

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

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

LEED Certification Process: Before the Exam

Achieving a LEED Credential can be quite a process. It requires more than simply taking an exam and calling it a day. The purpose of attaining such a certification is to demonstrate one’s expertise in the green building industry. This persona should be supported by extensive preparation, experience, knowledge, and maintenance. In fact, the USGBC requires that a LEED candidate undergo multiple criteria to be eligible for different tiers in the LEED Rating System.

The mandatory first step for an individual is to take LEED Exam Prep training. The main benefit of taking a LEED preparation course is the time that it saves. A student who attends a training course easily saves 3-4 hours of time for each hour that they spend in a concentrated learning environment. For example, someone taking a class might spend 14 hours in the classroom and another 20 hours studying for a total of 34 hours, compared to an individual studying on their own who might easily spend more than 100 hours trying to get to the same level of competency. So, the question is really about how someone values saving 70 hours of their time.

To choose a good program, a student should look at third-party indicators of their quality. Is the program from an accredited school? Is the organization offering the program an education provider for the U.S. Green Building Council? What do online reviews from former students say about the program?

The programs that waste students’ money most often are from small and inexperienced companies who do not have the expertise to properly design a course to successfully prepare students for their exam. Does the program reference former clients? Are they partnered with large corporations and universities for delivery of their classes?

Upon completion of the LEED prep class, an individual should take 2-3 weeks of self-study time to really make sure they understand the information that will be on the LEED Exam. They should have received a Certificate of Completion from their training provider, which will give them eligibility to register for the LEED Exam. It is within this time period that an individual is recommended to schedule their LEED Exam. Having a test date looming in the horizon is an especially high motivator.

November 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm Leave a 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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