What is a LEED property assessment?
Find out how greener properties LEED the way for the US
With energy efficiency high on the agenda, US businesses are stepping up to the mark by introducing greener practices into the workplace. Recycling bins, car-sharing schemes, and second-hand office furniture are just some of the options available.
But now, many corporations are going one step further - by turning to more eco-friendly office properties. And that's where LEED comes in.
What is LEED?
LEED stands for 'Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design'. It is a green building rating system that is currently the most popular in the US, but is now becoming increasingly utilized in the UK and other parts of the world. Developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) in 1998, LEED is a third-party process that sets out standards for sustainable design and construction of properties.
Designs, new buildings and existing structures are assessed on: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.
Properties are assessed and rated on each of these areas on a 100-point scale, with the most important areas earning more points than others. Properties are then awarded one of four levels of accreditation: Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum. A project must satisfy all prerequisites and earn a minimum number of points to be certified.
ACT data center LEEDs the way
The first US data centre to achieve the sought-after LEED Platinum accreditation is owned by ACT, an organization that provides services for lifelong learning. The data centre was opened in February 2008 and obtained its certification in July the same year.
Based in Iowa, the property boasts a geothermal system, which provides cooling and energy efficiency. The 'heat loops' of the system are buried underground, which protects them from weather conditions such as tornadoes and snowstorms, common in the area. There is also an indoor ventilation system which is 30% better than standard measures.
The building itself was constructed from 30% recycled materials, and has landscaping that does not require watering on 90% of the site. It also possesses cork flooring, cotton-wall insulation, aspen fiber ceiling panels, agrifiber wood doors, and other products made from renewable material.
See pictures of this building plus other examples of LEED Platinum buildings here.
Assessing office properties using LEED is voluntary, but many businesses are now recognising the benefits that greener offices can bring.
Creating or redeveloping an office building that reaches a high LEED standard provides a more agreeable workspace for employees. Factors such as increased natural light, ventilation, and efficient heating or air-cooling systems can lead to improvements in productivity and staff retention.
Firms also benefit from reduced utility bills. For example, greener methods such as wall and ceiling insulation can help reduce the amount of heating and air conditioning that is wasted, and collecting rain water for use in toilets can reduce the amount spent on water bills, whilst also assisting the environment.
- Did you know that the value of green building construction is expected to reach $60 billion by 2010?
- Since 2000, USGBC's membership has more than quadrupled, while over 5 billion sq ft of commercial building space is involved with LEED green building certification system.
- Buildings represent 38.9% of primary energy use in the US, and are one of the heaviest consumers of natural resources. US buildings also account for 38% of all CO2 emissions.
Are you doing your bit?
If you're involved in green practices at work, or you use a LEED-accredited property, get in touch and tell us all about it by leaving a comment below.
We look forward to hearing from you!