by Nicolle PortillA of RTS (Recyle Track Systems based in the US)
With environmental, health, and economic benefits – what exactly is LEED certification? Why is it important in modern construction?
Many factors endanger the environment. Unsustainable infrastructure systems, plastic waste, and increased carbon emissions all contribute to this. But, recently, people have acknowledged the need to protect the environment from harm. As part of that effort, there is a drive to lower the carbon emissions of the construction industry. The reduction in emissions can be achieved by sourcing sustainable products and implementing sustainable construction methods.
With a greater demand for sustainable buildings, LEED certification allows the construction industry to come closer to achieving sustainability.
What Is LEED Certification?
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) developed the LEED Certification. It created LEED to help with the creation of green buildings that are more efficient. Thus, LEED ensures environmentally friendly construction. This certification evaluates a building’s design and construction based on various factors.
These include water usage, energy efficiency, and air quality. LEED also factors in building materials used, access to public transportation, and responsible land use. This certification is a benchmark for a green building’s design, construction, operation, and maintenance.
The USGBC awards buildings that enroll in the program with the four levels of LEED certification. The number of points that a building earns determines the level they are in. These levels are:
- LEED-certified buildings (40-49 points)
- LEED silver buildings (50-59 points)
- LEED gold buildings (60-79 points)
- LEED platinum buildings (80 and above points)
As per the U.S. Green Building Council, the LEED certification is a globally accepted mark of achievement in sustainability.
The Value of LEED Certification in Modern Construction
So, what is a LEED certification good for? A large part of the population lives, works, and learns in LEED-certified buildings all over the globe. Some reasons why LEED certification is vital in modern construction include:
In America, buildings make up a large percentage of the country’s total energy, water, and electricity use. It also accounts for a huge part of carbon dioxide emissions. But, the LEED program helps new and existing buildings use more sustainable practices. A benefit of green building through LEED is water conservation.
LEED encourages the use of less water and the management of rainwater. It also encourages the use of alternative water sources. In doing so, water savings from LEED buildings will rise. Buildings produce close to half of the global CO2 emissions. A source of carbon in buildings includes energy used to pump and treat water. Other sources are waste disposal and fossil fuel used for heating and cooling.
LEED helps reduce CO2 emissions by giving rewards to projects with net-zero emissions. It also awards projects that produce positive energy returns. LEED-certified buildings also produce less greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions usually come from water use, solid waste, and transportation. Another environmental benefit of LEED Certification is that it encourages less energy consumption.
The construction industry produces millions of tons of waste each year. LEED encourages waste diversion from landfills. It also awards sustainable construction waste management and encourages general circular economy. When projects recover, reuse, and recycle materials, they earn points. They also get points when they use sustainable materials.
Wellness is a prime concern for many people. Building green using the LEED rating system helps people live and work in healthy environments. LEED buildings focus on human health both indoors and outdoors.
Americans spend about 90% of their time indoors. But, the concentration of pollutants indoors can be 2 to 5 times more than outdoors. A health effect of pollutants found in indoor air is headaches. Other effects are fatigue, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses.
LEED promotes indoor air quality through its rating system. LEED-certified homes aim to provide cleaner and better indoor air. LEED also encourages the development of spaces that have access to daylight. These spaces are also free from harsh chemicals usually present in paints.
In-office buildings, a healthy indoor environment improves the engagement of employees. Such an environment has clean air and great access to daylight. Some benefits of LEED-certified buildings include higher employment and retention rates. Employees are also more productive in such healthy spaces.
A LEED-certified building improves outdoor air quality, especially in highly industrialized locations. Thus, LEED is essential in limiting smog. It is also critical in making air healthier for the general population.
LEED can help save on cost. Using LED lighting leads to a significant reduction in energy costs. So does the use of more energy-efficient heating and cooling methods. LEED encourages the use of these energy and cost-saving methods.
The maintenance cost of LEED buildings is also lower. That is, in comparison to normal commercial buildings. Green buildings also have lower operating costs.
Buildings with LEED certification also enjoy tax benefits and incentives. Local governments provide these benefits. These benefits include tax credits, reductions in fees, and grants. The building may also enjoy expedited building permits and fee waivers.
Some locations carry out energy audits. A LEED certification may spare a building from an audit, saving the project money. LEED buildings also have increased property values. Plus, the buildings attract tenants. Green buildings have fewer vacancy rates than properties that are non-green.
A LEED certification also provides a competitive edge. Customers are more environmentally conscious in recent times. Most are willing to pay extra for goods and services from companies also conscious of the environment. More customers mean more revenue.
The Bottom Line
LEED is one of the top international programs for sustainability in the design and construction of buildings. A LEED certification shows the use of building methods that promote circular economy and are friendly to the environment. Having the certification can enhance the contractor’s and building owner’s credibility.
With the increasing need for sustainability, LEED certification has become increasingly important. It benefits the construction industry and shines the way for an ethical system of sustainable buildings. Generally, LEED works to ensure the world is more sustainable and healthier.
Source: For Construction Pros.com