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 2 comments

LEED Certification Will Include “Bird-Friendly” Credits

LEED Certified buildings are praised for the actions that project managers take to ensure energy efficient operations. Those who work on LEED-registered projects become familiar with the various credits that must be met to achieve points on the LEED Rating scale. The more points achieved in each credit, the higher the LEED certification for the building. What should also be praised about these buildings is their commitment to the environment – all aspects of the environment.

This includes animal life. Sustainability enthusiasts often say that the actions we take affect the environment. They’re usually taking about the harm we create to our air supply with carbon emissions. Let’s look at an even more obvious example of harm to the environment: the effects of passive solar lighting on birds.

A building’s passive solar lighting utilizes natural light and heat from the sun. While this sounds like an innovative and energy efficient product, the problem is that birds cannot differentiate between an open space and glass. People joke that birds fly straight into glass windows. The reality is that this sometimes severely injures, or kills, the birds. As more buildings utilize passive solar lighting in place of normal windows, the more birds will be in danger.

Fortunately, there is a pilot program from LEED that has been developed to fix this problem. Credits are now being given to buildings that take this understanding of birds into account. Ways to prevent the dangerous confusion include so-called “noise” that allows the birds to differentiate between the window and the open air. This includes changes in the UV, different coatings, and other technologies.

It takes a true environmentalist to not only care about the energy efficiency in a building, but to also consider how his or her actions are affecting the wildlife that survives near the building. This is certainly a program deserving to be heard. Hopefully with the success of this program, more LEED professionals will consider the indirect losses to wildlife that could occur as a result of their LEED certified buildings. What good is preserving our environment with LEED Certification of buildings, if we are (ironically) harming other parts of the environment?

December 8, 2011 at 1:30 pm 3 comments

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 2 comments

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 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 1 comment

6 Secrets for Passing the LEED Exam

You’re interested in becoming a LEED Green Associate because you hear it will further your career, teach you valuable concepts about green building, potentially inspire a raise or job promotion. The only problem is, you’ve heard the exam is difficult. Do not be daunted by what you’ve heard. Everblue has six fool-proof secrets for helping you pass the LEED Exam.

1. Commit to the Process. We don’t want you to be apprehensive about the LEED Certification process, but, to ensure your success, you will need to buckle down and focus. Becoming an accredited LEED professional takes time, energy, and mental determination. You will be taking in a lot of information, so you need to allot the appropriate amount of time to learn and comprehend the facts that will be on the exam. You should keep your eye on the prize, and don’t let anything get in the way of your professional development. We like to say that those who procrastinate never get around to becoming LEED Green Associates or LEED APs, so make a plan to achieve your goal!

2. Enroll in an Intensive Training Program. You can certainly study for the LEED Exam on your own. Of course, with that process, you may spend entirely too much time studying a concept that’s not on the LEED Exam and then ignoring the concepts you should be studying. You could also fall victim to distractions because you won’t be in a focused environment. It’s so easy to say that you’ll take a 15-minute break…and then you end up resting the remainder of your evening instead of studying. We have found that individuals who enroll in an intensive LEED training course actually save time because they are learning from industry professionals who have already passed the LEED Exam. Not only will a LEED training course provide information about green building, the LEED Rating System, and LEED credits, but a good training course will also prepare you for the format of the test and give you helpful test-taking strategies. Don’t risk having to take the exam multiple times – go ahead and learn from real LEED professionals in a live or online training course.

3. Set Your Exam Date. You should schedule your LEED Exam early on in your preparation process. Believe it or not, it’s much easier to sit down and concentrate on the task at hand when you have a deadline looming over your head. If you do not set an exam date in the near future, you will put off studying. With the amount of information that you’ll need to learn, it is not advised that you put off studying. We typically recommend 2-3 weeks of self-study time following your LEED training course. This time is meant solely to reinforce concepts learned in the class. You risk forgetting what you learned in class if you have no exam date to look forward to. You’ll feel way more motivated if you know you are scheduled to take the exam soon.

4. Utilize Study Aids. There are a number of study aids available for the LEED Exam. They range from electronic flashcards, practice questions, study sheets, iPhone apps, and sample practice exams. We don’t recommend that you use these materials as your primary study materials, but they certainly help to reinforce definitions and credits. Each LEED study aids were made to make studying fun and convenient, often times packaged in a way that you can take them “on-the-go.” This comes back to secret #1 and being committed; if you find that you don’t have time to study one night, work with some LEED flashcards while you are waiting in line at a restaurant or standing in the elevator. Every bit helps!

5. Take Practice Exams. After completing your LEED training course, you should be familiar with the format of the LEED Exam. You know that it’s timed and online. What better way to prepare than to actually put yourself in a scenario where you are timed and taking a sample test online? These LEED practice exams exist for this purpose. You want to walk into that Prometric testing center on exam day with complete confidence. You are already stressing about the kinds of facts that will be thrown at you – the last thing you want to worry about is the format of the test. Getting wrapped up with how many questions you can skip and whether or not those skipped questions will count against you will not only slow you down overall but will also affect your confidence and ability to concentrate on the importance facts of the exam. Do yourself a favor and practice with a sample exam!

6. Study with a Partner. You may be one of a few people in your office who are pursuing LEED Accreditation. It may be helpful to bounce ideas off one another. Peer study groups often provide encouragement and will help you stay on track. Just like some folks need workout partners to stay motivated, you might benefit from a LEED partner! There are multiple forums online where you can ask questions and interact with individuals who have passed the LEED Exam, worked on LEED projects, or who are also studying for the LEED Exam. LEED Accreditation is becoming an industry standard among building professionals; you don’t have to feel alone in the process.

Follow these steps, and you’ll be well on your way to LEED success! Everblue has trained tens of thousands of individuals, from small businesses and non-profit organizations to large corporations and government entities. We created the first successful LEED training model and are proud to say that we have the highest pass rate in the country. We constantly update our proprietary curriculum based on changing industry standards and student feedback. As the largest Portfolio Educational Provider for the U.S. Green Building Council, trust us when we say we are the nation’s leader in sustainability training.

Good luck on your exam!

November 15, 2011 at 9:36 pm 4 comments

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