Why Should I Get LEED Certified?
Many architects harbor an apprehension towards LEED, often due to misconceptions about the process and the benefits.
The certification provides an international recognition of your commitment to sustainability but also results in operational cost savings in the long run through energy efficiency. It improves occupants’ health and well-being and is often a requirement for certain government businesses.
In addition, LEED-certified buildings often command higher lease rates – a distinct advantage for building owners and commercial real estate professionals.
- International Recognition of Commitment to Sustainability: Achieving LEED certification is an internationally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership. LEED is known globally and used in over 160 countries. It signals to clients, investors, and the public that the building is environmentally responsible, resource-efficient, and a healthy place to live and work.
- Operational Cost Savings: LEED-certified buildings are designed to have lower operating costs and increased asset value. This is because they are more energy and water-efficient than non-certified buildings, which reduces utility bills over the building’s lifecycle. For example, they might use less electricity due to energy-efficient lighting and appliances, or less water due to low-flow plumbing fixtures.
- Environmental Benefits: LEED-certified buildings are, by definition, designed to have a lower impact on the environment. They use less water and energy, reduce waste during construction and operation, and often incorporate renewable energy sources, among other sustainable practices. This contributes to the conservation of natural resources and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Improvement in Occupant Health and Well-being: Buildings designed and maintained with LEED guidelines in mind can contribute to the improved health and productivity of their occupants. This can be achieved through better indoor air quality, more natural light, and the use of non-toxic materials. A healthier indoor environment can lead to lower healthcare costs, improved employee productivity and satisfaction, and lower absenteeism.
- Higher Lease Rates: Because LEED-certified buildings are more energy-efficient and offer a healthier living and working environment, they are often more attractive to potential tenants. This can allow the owners of these buildings to charge higher lease rates, particularly in the commercial real estate market. Furthermore, these buildings often have higher occupancy rates, which contributes to increased revenue for building owners.
- Productivity Benefits: have shown that employees in LEED-certified buildings tend to be more productive and have lower absenteeism. This is likely due to the healthier indoor environment, as well as improved lighting and climate control.
- Public Image: LEED certification can enhance a building or company’s image by demonstrating a commitment to environmental sustainability and social responsibility. This can help attract customers or clients who prioritize these values.
- Risk Management: By implementing sustainable practices, LEED-certified buildings can help mitigate potential risks associated with resource scarcity, energy costs, or future environmental regulations.
- Government Requirements: Many federal, state, and local governments in various countries encourage or mandate green building practices, sometimes specifying LEED certification for their own buildings and for public projects. Some provide incentives for private sector projects that achieve LEED certification. For instance, they might offer tax credits or expedited permitting for projects that meet certain LEED criteria. In the United States, for instance, the General Services Administration (GSA) requires that all new federal buildings and major renovations meet LEED Gold standards. Some states and cities have similar requirements for public buildings and may also offer incentives for private sector projects that achieve LEED certification.
- Washington D.C.: This city has mandated that all public buildings and publicly funded projects must meet LEED standards. Additionally, private projects that are 50,000 square feet or larger must also meet LEED certification requirements.
- San Francisco, California: The city requires that all municipal construction and major renovation projects over 5,000 square feet must achieve LEED Gold certification.
- State of New York: The Green Building Tax Credit encourages the incorporation of energy efficiency and environmental design into residential and commercial buildings by providing a tax credit for LEED-certified buildings.
Internationally, many countries, such as Canada, India, and China, have also recognized and adopted LEED certification, with their own public-sector green building requirements.
It’s important to check local and state building codes, laws, and regulations for the most accurate and up-to-date information, as these policies continue to evolve and can vary greatly by jurisdiction.
Remember, the exact benefits will vary depending on the specific circumstances of each project and its stakeholders. Nonetheless, LEED certification can provide valuable advantages for many different types of buildings and projects.
Misconceptions about the process and benefits of LEED certification can come from various sources. Some people might believe that the process is too time-consuming or expensive, but when the longer-term benefits are considered, it often becomes clear that the investment can provide significant returns over the life of the building. The process also offers opportunities for innovation in design and construction, which can lead to even more substantial benefits in some cases.
All in all, LEED certification isn’t just about being “green” – it’s about creating healthier, more productive places for people to live, work, and play, while also being mindful of our environmental impact.
Below are some additional resources for further reading and exploration:
- Understanding the LEED Certification Process: The LEED certification process is a rigorous, multi-step procedure designed to validate the sustainability and environmental performance of a building project.
- Three Routes to LEED Certification: There are essentially three ways you can become LEED certified. Read our blog for more information.
- Navigating the Different Levels of LEED Certification: LEED certification is based on a points system, where a project earns points for meeting specific green building criteria. The number of points the project earns determines its level of LEED certification.
- Is LEED Certification Worth It?: As architects and commercial designers, your work has the potential to influence the built environment significantly. Incorporating sustainable practices through LEED certification makes a powerful statement about your dedication to environmental stewardship and sustainability.
- 5 Sustainability Practices to Include in Your Next Commercial Construction Project: This article explores five key points to consider when it comes to sustainable design and how a Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) Engineering Designer can support your sustainable construction goals.
- LEED Online: Official portal where you can register and manage your LEED projects.
- LEED Credit Library: A complete list of all the credits that can be earned in various rating systems.
- U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC): USGBC is the organization that developed the LEED rating system. The website provides comprehensive details about the LEED certification process, rating systems, benefits of LEED certification, and more.
- Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI): GBCI is the organization responsible for independently recognizing excellence in green business industry performance and practice globally, which includes administering the LEED certification process.
Taking the first step towards LEED certification might seem daunting, but armed with the right resources and support, it becomes an achievable and rewarding process. Your dedication to sustainability reflects your commitment to a greener, more sustainable future—a goal we share at Pro Engineering. If you’re still on the fence about whether LEED certification is right for your next project, we are just a phone call away.
About Pro Engineering
Pro Engineering has provided mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering design services since 1995. Our MEP engineering design team can help you prepare the required construction documents for city or state permitting. Even after plans are finalized, we continue to make adjustments and revisions per owner request, city plan check requirements, or to meet engineering goals. We have worked on many clients’ LEED projects, designing to LEED standards. We design to energy code requirements and provide the most efficient systems in all of our designs. Projects can move fast, and so can .
For more information on how we can assist you with your next commercial construction project, contact us today.