What is LEED?
Have you ever sat in a building and wondered what its environmental impact may be? It’s probably not a thought that regularly crosses our minds. When thinking about our environmental impact, we typically consider cars, factories, or smog. However, in 2000, the environmental impact of buildings became a focus of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and they devised a standard to measure a building’s impact on the local and global environments. To this end, they developed a credential system for buildings which limits resource usage and overall environmental impact, known as “LEED”.
For more than 16 years, Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) has been certifying buildings across the country; you may have even seen its plaques on buildings you pass every day. LEED has expanded and now operates in over 150 countries worldwide. They have since become the international standard for structural environmental credentialing with green building councils established across the world. By creating a standardized set of goals, LEED set the bar for sustainability and efficiency, thereby helping all structures to be environmentally conscious when building or refurbishing.
How Do You Qualify for a LEED Credential?
There are seven categories in which to earn points to contribute toward a LEED score. These categories include: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Indoor Environment Quality, Materials and Resources, Energy and Atmosphere, Innovation in Operations, and Awareness and Education. LEED certified buildings are categorized as standard, silver, gold, or platinum based on the amount of points your structure or facility earns in the various categories. Having a diverse and comprehensive plan in place to eliminate waste and maximize resources helps minimize environmental impact and achieve the higher levels of LEED certification.
As an example, let’s say you work in a local manufacturing plant. There are several ways to reduce waste and improve efficiency through your various systems. One could earn points for water efficiency by installing an automated watering system. There could be points earned in materials and resources for reusing shipping, packing, or building materials and sourcing materials locally. Some measures can earn points in multiple categories such as installing energy efficient fixtures. Another way to improve efficiency is by installing high volume, low speed (HVLS) fans to aid in climate control.
HVLS fans can yield LEED points in the following categories:
- Indoor environment quality for their impressive ventilation capabilities,
- Energy and atmosphere for their energy efficiency (this may vary by manufacturer) and ability to maximize HVAC effectiveness, and
- Innovation and design for being a practical, efficient, and intuitive ventilation solution.
As you can see, simple measures like saving water, utilizing natural light, and adding high-efficiency ventilation equipment can go a long way towards LEED certification. During a new build or a renovation, implementing these and many other possible measures to limit waste and resource consumption, can help your building become an environmentally tested LEED-certified facility.