What is LEED Building Certification and How Can You Acquire It?

There has been a major push towards the development of greener standards in nearly every industry. The reason for this range from being more environmentally friendly to delivering higher performance. LEED®, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a rating system originally spearheaded by Robert Watson in 1995 with the U.S. Green Building Council. It has become the industry standard for defining the voluntary guides in developing sustainable, high performance buildings. Because of its relative early phase in development, the system is constantly being refined, updated and modified –it has to be flexible enough to be consensus driven and open-ended.
Earning Points for LEED Certification
In order to achieve LEED certification, buildings need to acquire points in various categories. These categories cover everything about a building's design and implementation and are thoroughly examined before points are awarded. It is based on these categories that a buildings LEED rating can be given – Platinum, Gold, Silver or Certified. The LEED points system can be broken down into six different categories.
  1. A building that has green design innovations to set it apart from standard construction.
  2. The interior environmental quality of the building.
  3. A property that is sustainable.
  4. The resources and the materials used in the construction of the building.
  5. The quality of the interior environment.
  6. The energy and atmosphere of the building.
How to Apply for LEED Certification
For companies who want to apply for LEED certification, the process starts by finding a LEED accredited professional. In Canada, the Canada Green Building Council or CaGBC is the place to go to start the process. The cost of certification varies based on the building, but can run from a couple hundred dollars up to more than thirty thousand dollars for non-member, large buildings. The paperwork involved in achieving LEED certification is often complex and does require the expertise of a LEED accredited professional.
There are several different versions of LEED certification available for buildings, and determining which is best for your project is a great first step. These versions include:
  • LEED-NC – For new commercial construction as well as major renovations.
  • LEED-CI – For commercial interior projects.
  • LEED-CS – For core or shell projects.
  • LEED-EB – For existing buildings wanting certification.
  • LEED-H – For residential homes.
  • LEED-ND – For full neighbourhood developments.
Why Seek LEED Certification
The benefits of LEED certification far exceed the basic desires of wanting to reduce your carbon footprint, which should be something to be incredibly proud of in and of itself. Other benefits of having a LEED rated building include:
  • An increase in the value of the property. In many cases, LEED certification has resulted in properties that are valued much higher than comparable buildings that haven't been able to achieve LEED certification.
  • LEED certification attracts buyers as the new energy efficiencies are in high demand.
  • LEED certification delivers perks, in some cases you may qualify for tax breaks, the speed in which your permits are processed is faster and there are often other perks as well.
Overall there are many benefits and reasons to have your building LEED certified, not only for the environmental benefits but also for the perks that certification offers.
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