LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) certifications are globally recognized as a symbol of achieving building sustainability. As defined by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. It provides a framework for all building projects to apply healthy, highly efficient and cost saving strategies. LEED certification provides a roadmap to sustainability that takes the mystery out of the ethereal concept of “Green Design” and gives building owners tangible financial benefits and incentives.
While the concept of Green Building is increasing in popularity, its cost, cultural and structural resistance, lack of know-how, expertise, funding and awareness keep its growth slow. Organization’s fear of implementing new and imperfect concepts, keep them from trying green building. Renowned green architect William McDonough makes a good point. The job of green design is not for everything to work perfectly at first, but to stimulate improvement, learning and best practices throughout the facility’s life. LEED certification is not an exact blueprint. Green designers focus should not be on certification alone, but how building performance leads to certification. Building for certification alone hinders the purpose of sustainability, tampering a facility’s efficiency and sustainability potential in the long-run.
Another LEED trap to avoid is gaming the system for easy returns. By making one-off, incentivized adjustments to your facility in lieu of developing a wholistic strategy, you’re forgoing long-term savings and actual environmental benefits.
As these practices become more mainstream and more businesses adopt them, designers and developers will begin to blindly follow requirements without questioning or improving them at all. It’s vital to your LEED design to encourage forward-thinking planning and future improvements.
When done correctly and in partnership with talented, qualified engineers, architects, and building owners with experience, an LEED standard building strategy is beneficial to the owner’s budget, equipment life, the organization, and the health of its occupants. While initially expensive, an effective strategy will focus on the life-cycle evaluation of a building and its performance data, prioritizing long-term financial and environmental benefits.
Green, LEED certified facilities are a worthwhile option for organizations willing to take a risk to continue improving innovative technologies and applications that truly benefit all stakeholders. When a dedicated team and plan is in place to keep operations running inline with LEED requirements, continued improvement and long-term benefits are a guarantee.