Protecting our rapidly-corrupting environment has become a major concern worldwide. People, governments and organizations are employing eco-friendly ways to live. When it comes to building construction, LEED enforces eco-friendly standards. What is LEED and how does it benefit you?
What is LEED?
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design; it’s aninnovative set of green housing rating systems. The idea behind LEED is to ascertain that building owners use eco-friendly methods of construction. LEED was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 1998 with a view to help people utilize resources efficiently and build eco-friendly homes and buildings. The USGBC has about 20,000 member organizations that review and approve LEED standards from time to time. From 1998 till now, about 7000 building projects worldwide have benefitted from LEED standards.
How It Works
LEED recommends the following measures to transform buildings into more eco-friendly and energy efficient structures:
- Using cob for creating a thermal envelope around walls
- Using radiant heat flooring
- Optimizing daylight through intelligent constructions
- Using a roof-mounted solar panel array
LEED certifies buildings that score high on a standardized scoring model, in the following six categories:
- Site sustainability
- Water efficiency
- Optimum use of Energy and a cleaner, healthier atmosphere
- Eco-friendly materials and resources
- Quality of indoor environment
- Design innovation
Based on the score achieved, buildings are offered one out of four certificates – LEED Certified, LEED Silver, LEED Gold, and LEED Platinum. Needless to say, the LEED Platinum is the most sought-after and the hardest to achieve. Builders need to pay a registration and certification fee which cover administration, construction and commission costs. However, the long-term cost-savings more than make up for the initial investment.
Benefits of LEED
There are several benefits of adhering to LEED standards, for both construction companies like ViaTechnik and the people that live and work in the buildings.
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Savings On Energy and Building Costs
- When LEED standards are followed, building costs come down significantly. In fact, LEED Gold and Platinum certified buildings have managed to cut costs by half and more.
- In a 20-year building lifecycle, savings outweigh costs from 12.2 to 16.8 times. Lifecycle costing is a way to assess the total cost of building. It takes into account costs towards acquiring, owning, operating and disposing of a building.
- Energy costs are reduced, as are building operation and maintenance costs.
- Improved Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) gives rise to cost savings to $153.61 per square foot during a 20-year building lifecycle. With improved air quality, home owners can save money on air purifiers and humidifiers.
- Water is recycled, which brings down wastage, both in terms of water and money. Solid wastage is reduced as well, which benefits home owners and society as a whole.
Increase In Resale And Rental Values
- Green homes and apartments generate higher rents as well, which is a definite benefit for property owners and apartment builders.
- In a 2008 study, CoStar stated that LEED rental spaces enjoy a per square foot rent premium of $11.33. That apart, these spaces enjoy 4.1% higher occupancy rates.
- LEED certified homes and office have a higher resale value, due to better healthier work and living environments
- In the US, several districts offer incentives to builders to construct LEED-certified buildings.
- 100% property tax exemption on assessed property value is an example of such an incentive, being offered by Cincinnati, Ohio. Other States and countries are following this example. Over time, such incentives represent a huge savings for builders.
- Certain regions like Nevada are offering exemption from local taxes for qualifying LEED buildings.
- Several other benefits are being offered, such as tax breaks, low-interest loans, reduced fees, tax credits, density bonuses, free technical assistance and grants.
- The USGBC announced the LEED Earth program which refunds LEED certification fees in other countries, to the first LEED-certified project that’s built.