LEED, by the way, is short for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System. Since its start in 1998, it's been a way for building owners, contractors, designers and operators to gain third-party, independent recognition that's gained acceptance nationwide. Individuals can gain professional accreditation, and projects can earn certification too.
For projects, LEED ratings go along a sliding scale, from "plain" LEED certification, to silver certification, to gold, and all the way up to the Holy Grail, platinum certification.
Another similar organization is the Green Building Initiative, which has its own Green Globes Design program. Here, depending on how many of up to 1,000 points they earn, building projects can get a rating of one to five Green Globes.
A Green Globe assessment is based on how well a building performs in certain areas, such as project management, water usage, resources impact and how it uses renewal sources, emissions and effluent impact, indoor air quality and environment, and overall energy usage from its performance, to demands, to the integration of all its efficient systems.
With LEED, the process is point based as well, confirms a USGBS spokesperson, Ashley Katz. Points are based on five main breakdowns: the site of the building, its water use, the materials and supplies going into its construction and operation, energy and atmosphere, and indoor environmental quality--thus, very similar to the Green Globes rating system.
"There are numerous criteria that get you there," says Willis broker Rick Hawkinberry, on how builders can get their project to join the more than 14,000 other projects, across every state and 30 countries, that have participated in LEED.
Hawkinberry cites the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, which got huge certification points for pouring reused concrete. Another way to earn certification is to work with LEED-certified contractors, designers, material suppliers and other vendors out there doing business in a green fashion, Hawkinberry says.
After a construction project is complete, all of the submitted documentation gets reviewed by a LEED certification board to see if the building meets the certification level it was shooting for.
Perhaps the best way to think of a green building project is as a collaborative effort, an "integrated design approach," as Katz puts it. That teamwork is between a real estate developer, the eventual tenants, the builders, designers and engineers and can produce a variety of building systems, down to the color of the paint on the walls.
Other green building standards include the U.K.-based BREEAM and the Minnesota Sustainable Design Guide. Generally, these standards agree on green building best practices, according to the Green Globes Web site. What tends to be different among these different standards is the delivery of them and how a project owner, designer, builder interacts with the certifying body.
MATTHEW BRODSKY is senior editor/Web editor of Risk & Insurance®.
July 1, 2008
Copyright 2008© LRP Publications