Best planning and implementation toolbox

LEED Certification:

Purpose of Tool:
The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices. The LEED principals are supported through the creation and implementation of universally understood and accepted tools and performance criteria. LEED is a third-party certification program and is the nationally-accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools needed to have an immediate and measureable impact on the performance of a building. It also promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.

Benefits of Using Tool:
The built environment has a profound impact on our natural environment, economy, health, and productivity. The following are benefits of green building:

  • Enhances and protects ecosystems and biodiversity
  • Improves air and water quality
  • Reduces solid waste
  • Conserves natural resources
  • Reduces operating costs
  • Enhances asset value and profits
  • Improves employee productivity and satisfaction
  • Optimizes life-cycle economic performance
  • Improves air, thermal, and acoustic environments
  • Enhances occupant comfort and health
  • Minimizes strain on local infrastructure
  • Contributes to overall quality of life

    Steps Involved to Use Tool:
    The US Green Building Council has set a standard for sustainable building performance. To receive LEED building certification, the following steps must be followed:
  • Register project to pursue certification intent
  • Integrate LEED requirements into building design
  • Obtain technical support
  • Document the project for certification
  • Receive certification

    Special Requirements to Use Tool:
    Pursuing LEED certification often increases the cost of initial design and construction. However, these higher initial costs can be effectively mitigated by the savings incurred over time (usually within 10 years, depending on up-front costs) due to lower-than-industry-standard energy utilization and operational costs which are typical of a LEED-certified building.

    Specials Resources Needed to Use Tool:
    LEED certification is obtained after submitting an application documenting compliance with the requirement of the rating system, as well as paying registration and certification fees. To meet LEED certification, it often requires substantial initial capital investments into cleaner and greener technologies.

    Communities / Agencies that Have Used Tool:
  • Dallas, Texas: Dallas now requires that all new private construction meet LEED standards to reduce environmental impact. The City’s Green initiative is aimed at environmental responsibility and encourages public and private sector involvement.  Contact:

    Green Dallas – Dallas City Hall 
    1500 Public Information Office
    Dallas, TX 75201

  • Washington, D.C.: Washington implemented a Green Building Act in 2006 which established new standards for green buildings applicable to both private and public projects.   Contact:

    Green DC - District Department of the Environment
    51 N Street, NE 6th Floor
    Washington, DC 20002

  • Boston, Massachusetts: Boston requires that all projects over 50,000 SF to be designed and planned to meet the certified level using LEED building rating systems.  Contact:

    Boston Redevelopment Authority
    One City Hall Square
    Boston, MA 02201

    Metrics to Use to Monitor Tool Effectiveness:
    Metrics for measuring the impacts of LEED-certified projects are focused in the five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. Examples of measured success include the following.

    As an alternative to traditional design, a redevelopment in Vancouver, British Columbia used the site of a former car lot to create a mixed-use retail, office, and apartment space. The majority of the thermal energy for the building is provided via a ground source heat pump, a savings passed on to the tenants. Waste heat from a restaurant and grocery store is used to preheat domestic water for the above residences. The building operates with a 40-percent energy savings.

    Villages Homes in Davis, California is a green, planned residential community of single family detached homes and apartments built in 1981. Designed to take maximum advantage of the sun, the annual household energy bills are one-half to one-third lower than for comparable homes in surrounding neighborhoods. Natural drainage systems on site save residents $800 per lot and have proved more effective for handling storm water. Narrower streets have reduced the amount of pavement and lowered ambient air temperature by 15 degrees, increased pedestrian safety, and allowed for future reductions in the costs for repair and maintenance.

    List of Resources to Obtain Additional Info:
  • “The Guide to Green: Buildings”. Government of the District of Columbia. District Department of Environment.
  • “Why Build Green”. Rocky Mountain Institute.
  • “Greening the Building and the Bottom Line”. U.S. Department of Energy. Rocky Mountain Institute.
  • “Green Office Guide”. City of Portland, Office of Sustainable Development.
  • “Greening the Metropolitan Washington Region’s Built Environment. 2007. COG Intergovernmental Green Building Group.