by Nikki Fotheringham

Green building design is quickly gaining popularity around the world to save costs and decrease environmental impact. This means that more facilities are earning LEED Certifications for their sustainability efforts.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification is a rating system for sustainability in building design and construction. It is the most widely used rating system in the world and is flexible enough to cover almost all buildings and project types. LEED provides a framework for designers and construction professionals to build efficient, sustainable, healthy and cost-saving green buildings.

What is LEED Certification?

Sponsored by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), the LEED certification is a rating system that tells you how green or sustainable a building is. LEED certification awards points to each individual green feature of a building for an overall rating that comes in 4 categories. 40-49 points earns a basic LEED certification. LEED Silver is awarded at 50-59 points, Gold at 60-79 points and Platinum at 80 points or more.

When you live or work in a LEED-certified building, you know you are helping to regenerate the planet’s resources by utilizing less water, reducing waste, saving on maintenance costs, enjoying improved indoor air quality and reducing your impact on the environment.

5 Benefits of LEED Certification for Green Buildings

The benefits of going to the expense of LEED certification are legion. Not only will you make your money back in energy savings, but you will also fulfill your social contract to the community you live in by reducing your impact on the environment. You are creating a sustainable, green building that is healthier for people and for the planet; it’s a wonderful way to balance your triple bottom line.

1. Cost Savings

One of the most important features of a LEED-certified building is that the building envelope is robust. This means less energy is utilized in heating and cooling. Add other energy-saving features like Energy Star appliances and LED lighting and you have a building that is 30-60% more energy efficient. This vastly reduces your monthly utility bills.

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2. Resale Value

In a recent survey, researchers discovered that the value of homes with LEED certifications in California were on average 9% higher than those without green certifications between 2007 and 2012. When it comes to commercial buildings like multi-family rentals properties sell for a higher rate — about 20% more than units in non-certified buildings.

3. Healthier Environments

LEED Certification requires tight building envelopes and advanced filtration systems that improve the quality of indoor air. Depending on where you are, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that indoor air is two to ten times more polluted than outdoor air. LEED-compliant buildings have fewer airborne pollutants as well as less mold and mildew. Studies show that this leads to happier, healthier employees who are more productive.

4. Reduced Impact on the Environment

LEED-certified buildings use less energy and some even produce much of their own energy from renewable sources. There is also a reduction in water consumption thanks to Energy Star appliances and low-flow plumbing fixtures. Recycling and waste reduction features are part of every LEED Certified project. To date, LEED-certified buildings have diverted more than 80 million tons of waste from landfills.

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5. Better Recruitment Options

Studies show that millennials would take a paycut to work for a company that was more sustainable. Many employees and tenants value sustainability as an important contributing factor when selecting a building to live or work in or a job they would like to do.

How to Become LEED Certified

The process for acquiring LEED Certification takes some navigation. You’ll need to register with the USGBC and undergo their orientation. You’ll have to pay the registration fee and then submit all the documentation. Once they have been received, you’ll need to participate in the review process. This will require you to certify projects based on your prototype and then take part in ongoing quality-assurance audits.

While this process is laid out clearly on the USGBC website, it does require specialist knowledge and is time-consuming. It is advised that you seek the help of a professional consultant who has completed several LEED Certified projects, like Therma, who is able to seamlessly shepherd you through this process. Contact us today!

Nikki Fotheringham is an environmental journalist and cookbook author. She is the editor of Greenmoxie.com where she shares green-living tips and helps people to live a more sustainable life.