LEED Buildings

LEED is the acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The acronym comes from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED provides a thorough and detailed set of requirements to meet sustainability goals and assess building performance. Sustainability is defined by the USGBC as “a process to design the built environment while considering environmental responsiveness, resource efficiency, and cultural and community sensitivity.” LEED focuses on innovations for water savings, energy efficiency, sustainable site development, environmentally friendly and local products and materials selection and indoor environmental quality. LEED encourages “Green Building” by recognizing green builders, green designers and green building owners, managers and tenants by building certification and professional accreditation.

History of LEED

There were a variety of rating systems that existed for determining the sustainability of buildings in the early 90’s. These systems were too specific. It was difficult to compare an energy efficient building to a building that used sustainable building materials. The development of LEED combined these building goals under one complete evaluation system that can be updated nationwide as new technologies become available. LEED is volunteer-based and consensus driven and in one decade has been recognized worldwide as a measurement of sustainability.

LEED Certifications

There are several different LEED certifications available. They are LEED-NC (New Construction), LEED-EB (Existing Buildings), LEED-CI (Commercial Interiors), LEED-CS (Core and Shell), LEED-H (Homes), and LEED-ND (Neighborhood Development). Although PENTA professionals can provide consulting for each of these categories, LEED-EB is the certification that would require the most assistance from PENTA. LEED-EB addresses operations, maintenance, and systems retrofits. EB complements the LEED-NC system and is used for ongoing certification of building performance.   Many are not aware that the LEED-NC certification is only good for the as-built environment. LEED-EB is required for those building owners and managers that want to maintain their certification. LEED-EB is the certification that will be sought after by tenants who want to have their businesses in sustainable environments. Even though EB reflects existing buildings, NC can also be used for major renovations. Prior to deciding which rating system is best suited for a building, a thorough review of both rating systems should occur, and the decision should be made on a case by case basis.

LEED-EB Categories

LEED-EB has six major categories: 1) Sustainable Sites (SS), 2) Water Efficiency (WE), 3) Energy and Atmosphere (EA), 4) Materials and Resources (MR), 5) Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) and 6) Innovations in Upgrades, Operations and Maintenance (IUOM). Each of these categories, with the exception of IUOM, have requirements (prerequisites) that all LEED-EB buildings must meet. In addition to the prerequisites, credits are available in each category to provide building owners and managers options to achieve building certification in different ways and at different levels. A total of 85 points are currently available in LEED-EB. To be certified LEED-EB a building must achieve 32 points. To become Silver Certified a building must achieve 40 points, Gold 48 points and Platinum 64 points.

PENTA’s Expertise

Although PENTA can assist building owners and managers with each of the six major categories, PENTA is asked most often to assist the accreditation process by assisting with the 22 available points in the Indoor Environmental Quality division. PENTA has been providing Indoor Environmental Quality services since its inception. PENTA is experienced with the American Society of Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards as they affect buildings. PENTA has also performed assessments and sampling related to Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS), Asbestos, and PCBs. PENTA has often used equipment that measures indoor air quality parameters including pollutants, lighting, temperature and ventilation and thermal comfort. PENTA also has experience with green cleaning products and methods.

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