5 Steps to a Greener Office with LEED Design Tips

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LEED Certified building
Photo by Mike Gifford

LEED certification is a growing norm and an attractive innovation in the building industry.  LEED-certified buildings are designed to conserve energy and water, reduce waste, lower building operating costs, increase asset value, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and be overall healthier and safer for occupants.  On top of those benefits, LEED-certification can also mean tax rebates, zoning allowances, and other incentives.

LEED certification occurs after a building project has met all LEED prerequisites and earned a minimum score on a rating scale.  Commercial buildings and neighborhoods must earn at least 40 points on a 110-point scale, and homes must earn at least 45 points on a 136-point scale.

Tips to Follow if you want a LEED certification

 Follow this outline of five key steps to achieve LEED status:

  1. Do your homework.  Research your LEED program (are you designing a new home or building, renovating for LEED certification, etc.?) and download a scorecard from the LEED website to determine the requirements and additional points you must achieve for LEED status.
  2. Develop your goals.  Determine the goals and vision you have for your green space.  Do you want to focus on sustainability, water efficiency, energy, materials and resources, or indoor environmental quality?  All of these categories have required steps for LEED certification, but your remaining points can come from a variety of categories.  What do you want your building to achieve?
  3. Budget your project.  LEED certification takes an average of $2000 for certification fees.  The NRDC also estimates that LEED-certified projects cost an average of 2% more in upfront costs.   These average increased costs will pay for themselves through lower energy and water bills throughout the building’s future.  Be realistic with your budget, especially when reviewing the points you want to achieve for your green goals – some upgrades and systems may cost more than others.
  4. Do the paperwork.  You can’t start on LEED certification without registering, so make sure you submit a project registration before you begin construction.
  5. Ask for help.  It’s a good idea to ask for some help from a qualified LEED professional, such as a LEED Green Associate or a LEED AP with a specialty in building design and construction, operations and maintenance, interior design and construction, homes, or neighborhood development.  These experts are trained to help you design and implement your LEED-rated building project.

A LEED-certified building is a green innovation that is improving many buildings’ environmental impact.  Though the startup costs may be a little steeper than a traditional building project, the environmental benefits far outweigh those costs, and you will recoup the expenditures from more efficient heating, cooling, water, and electricity bills.  You could save even more by installing a wind turbine in the back yard, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.