This week is World Green Building Week, and today – September 23, 2010 – happens to be the Green Building Day. In honor of the increased international and national focus on green building initiatives, we wanted to provide a brief overview of green building and LEED certification.
One of the fastest growing aspects of construction today is green building. Due in part to American Recovery and Investment Act, also known as the federal Stimulus Act, and the adoption of environmental code requirements by local and state legislatures, green building continues to grow in both new construction and the renovation of existing buildings. As this industry continues to grow it is important that owners, developers, designers and contractors all understand what it means to be green.
So far, the focal point for the development of green building has been the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The LEED rating system provides certification for new projects based upon earning points in key performance areas. For new construction projects, these areas include:
• Sustainable Sites
• Water Efficiency
• Energy and Atmosphere
• Materials and Resources
• Indoor Environmental Quality
• Innovation in Design
• Regional Priority
To break down the LEED system even further, there are different levels of LEED that can be achieved: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. These levels correspond to the number of credits accrued in the green categories above.
Some incentives for constructing a building that qualifies for LEED certification are:
• anticipated tax breaks
• energy savings
• occupancy rates
• sale price and rental rates
Once LEED certification has been achieved, it is important to maintain that status for the entire life of the building. The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) recently adopted a policy that allows parties to challenge the LEED certification of a building. Anyone can raise a challenge to the LEED certification and there is no time limit for doing so. This policy has the affect of forcing all those involved with a LEED rated project to maintain the LEED certification documentation long after the project is complete. A project de-certified by this policy will not receive a refund of any of the fees paid to the GBCI and could potentially have state and local incentives retroactively revoked.