Getting a Greener Building, Part II

August 5, 2008

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Having the certification to back up your claims is an important part of building a green reputation.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a group of independent certification programs that were developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to rate the level of compliance with environmentally-friendly building practices recommended by its members.

LEED has several certification programs, each geared toward a specific segment of the building and construction market. The programs of most interest to facility managers are the Commercial Interiors, New Construction, Core and Shell, Hospitals, Schools, and Retail programs. Existing public buildings of all types are covered under the Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance program.

Each certification program addresses environmental concerns within six broad categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and the innovation and design process. A building is scored for its performance of several sub-category tasks.

For example, Painting and coating is directly addressed under indoor environmental quality, and has its own category of low emitting materials. However, using recycled paint can help a building score higher in materials and resources. A careful selection of paint may also boost the building’s score in other categories, such as thermal efficiency and lighting control.

The LEED programs are periodically revised as technology creates new opportunities to make a greener building. For example, the Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance program is due for an update in September of 2008.

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