Building a Sustainable Future

Examining smart and environmentally friendly technologies and methods, such as biodiesel, green buildings, natural power, energy efficient appliances and many others that take a minimal toll on the environment, in order to inform and help make our future a sustainable one.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

LEED Building Olympics: Platinum, Gold, Silver: Part 2.

Last time, I took some time to take a basic look at an overview of LEED certifications and the general method by which a builder or building can attain one. Today, I'd like to take a look at some of the different categories where builders can attain points towards LEED certifications to help everyone get a better idea of how easy it is to make a building more environmentally-friendly, and ultimately, sustainable. Note: The examples below for each category are certainly not exhaustive; for a complete list, head over here.

1. Sustainable Sites (14 points).
From the LEED perspective, this category refers to the basic sustainability of a site, such as how well erosion and runoff are controlled, the overall selection of the building site for the particular type of building that will be built, and so forth. Some of these principles would be very easy to follow for builders who wanted to do so.

2. Water Efficiency (5 points).
Points toward a LEED certificate can be gained here by using water efficiently to maintain the landscape and reducing its overall water usage by 50%, using new/innovative wastewater technologies to handle wastewater, reducing overall water usage, and others.

3. Energy & Atmosphere (17 points)
Some of the LEED certification points here are required, such as the basic building system's commission, minimum energy performance, and overall CFC reduction in the HVAC systems. Others, such as renewable energy and other energy/pollutant conservation measures can award extra points.

4. Materials & Resources (13 points)
Like the Energy & Atmosphere category, some of the LEED certification points in this category are required, such as recyclable management (storage/collection). Others, such as Building Reuse by maintaining 75% of existing structure shell(such as the Mattress Factory at the University of Washington) and construction waste management can help builders retain extra points toward the LEED Platinum certification.

5. Indoor Environmental Quality (15 points)
LEED Certification required points here include minimum Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) performance and Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) control/management. Extra points to help achieve certification: Ventilation effectiveness, low-emission construction materials, and others.

6. Innovation & Design process (5 points)
This final LEED Certification category is a place where builders and architects can realize and implement new and creative ways to make their buildings more sustainable and less environmentally impacting. This is good news for those who have a penchant for design and creativity, and should help spur such people on to more cost-effective, energy-efficient creative building practices. For those on the edge of a certification point boundary, these extra points could mean the difference between silver and gold, gold and platinum certifications.

As more and more builders realize and recognize the benefits, both financially and environmentally of building to the LEED standards, we will likely notice an improvement over time of overall environmental quality, both inside and outside. Here, we've had a chance to look at a few examples of the basic standards for LEED builders, and what things new builders and architects can aim for. Next time, we'll take a look at some specific LEED-certified buildings to find out how the LEED principles can be implemented in the real world.

Categories: LEED,architecture


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