What is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, (LEED)?

This is a program run by the U.S. Green Building Council. The USGBC is non-governmental organization, with over 20,000 members and 79 chapters. Its sole purpose, to promote green buildings.

Here’s a simplified look at how LEED works. Architects, developers and builders who want their buildings to be green work towards getting LEED certification. LEED certification comes when they earn a certain number of points. Points are awarded when they meet certain goals in six areas:

Sustainable Sites – that means they choose the right place to build their building, and work to make sure their building fits the site. Frank Lloyd Wright would have approved of this one – he was known for making his structures fit into the site, rather than changing the site to fit the structure.

Water Efficiency – obviously, that they take into consideration water usage of the building. Using landscaping that doesn’t need too much water, planning ways for rainwater to be efficiently taken care of, maybe even finding ways to use “brown” water for plantings.

Energy and Atmosphere – that the building is energy efficient, doesn’t create of lot of air pollution, maybe uses solar panels.

Materials and Resources – LEED emphasizes using recycled materials and sustainable materials – such as bamboo floors instead of regular hardwood floors, kitchen countertops made from recycled glass rather than granite, and carpets made from recycled plastic pop bottles rather than from virgin petroleum, etc.

Indoor Environmental Quality – this means the air the occupants breathe is fresh, so they use paints with low volatile organic compounds, they use adhesives that don’t release noxious fumes, they put in more hard floors than carpets, and when they do put in carpets, they’re the kind that don’t have a lot of fumes.

Innovation and Design Process – this is a category that allows LEED points to be earned for going above and beyond the other requirements.
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