Why Bother with LEED Certification
The following article was published by Michael Senger, LEED AP, is a Mechanical Engineer with Heapy Engineering. Involved in over 100 LEED projects and with +50 LEED Accredited Professional on staff, Heapy Engineering one of the leading sustainable design firms in the country. Michael is also a Board Member of the Cincinnati Regional Chapter of the USGBC.
Building owners often question the additional time and expense involved with registering a building for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED (Registered)) certification through the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), versus just simply including ”green” features in a project. There are several reasons why owners choose to have their buildings certified through the various LEED Rating Systems. Some building owners feel that environmentally it is the right thing to do. Others make the decision to pursue LEED due to requirements of their own governing body. Still other building owners pursue a financial incentive offered through their local government or parent organization. Essentially, there are three general reasons why building owners should seek Certification: commitment, legitimacy, and marketability.
Commitment. By registering your project with the USGBC you are committing to design and construct your building to the standards and requirements outlined by the LEED Rating System. Your design team and your building’s contractor are then committed to integrating those design features to ensure that your building is more durable, healthy and more energy efficient. Through the rigors of budget, programming, or other project challenges, these ”green” features will remain because you and your team decided to produce a building that merits LEED Certification and national recognition for its sustainability.
Legitimacy. In the face of widespread ”green washing” (ie: the attempt by businesses or individuals to mislead consumers as to the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service), LEED Certification tells your peers, clients and customers, that your building’s sustainable features have been verified by a third party to promote energy conservation, to ensure a healthier indoor environment and to reduce its impact on the environment. LEED is a consensus-based system, meaning one that was commented and voted upon by the USGBC’s diverse membership. It ensures that your project team didn’t just invent the ”green” requirements on your own or design your project to some arbitrary definition of sustainability. Instead, thousands of professionals (there are over 45,000 LEED Accredited Professionals within the USGBC) collaborated, discussed and agreed upon these requirements.
Marketability. A LEED Certified headquarters, branch office, retail location, or elementary school is a strong marketing tool to show the community that your organization is committed to something greater than itself. It demonstrates that you were willing to make the extra effort to not only include those features, but also to have them confirmed – better yet Certified – by a nationally and internationally recognized leader in the field. The LEED Rating System is a tool that can help create a space that will enhance your employees’, clients’, or students’ everyday environment while reducing operating and maintenance costs as well as decreasing its impact on the environment. LEED Certification demonstrates how it was accomplished.