Last week, I officially launched the Y Design Workshop website. (I even have a Facebook page that I’m not sure what to do with yet.) It was great to hear positive feedback from all the people I know and love (a.k.a. my family and close friends). I am looking forward to hearing from strangers (a.k.a. potential clients) in the future!
I received an e-mail from a friend asking to define and explain the benefits of LEED accreditation/certification. He also asked for the general philosophy of LEED and the expense of certification. I replied to his e-mail and he promptly replied back, “Thanks for informing me… you should have that information on your website.” He’s got a great point. While LEED is ubiquitous in my world, my world can be rather small. So, I’ve included the response to my friend below.
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and was developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). There are several rating systems in the LEED family, and they are pretty much the standard for green building certification in the US. I am a LEED Accredited Professional, which means I have passed a test that assessed my knowledge of sustainable building strategies, practices and materials, as well as my understanding of the LEED certification process. The certification process involves adequately documenting the steps one has taken during design and construction to meet certain benchmarks for performance. I am also required to complete continuing education hours annually that specifically focus on sustainable design, construction and LEED certification.
I suppose the general philosophy of the USGBC (and the LEED rating systems) is that sustainable building practices make better buildings, communities and environments. They consume less energy and water (creating and/or reusing their own in many cases), utilize resources responsibly and efficiently, produce less waste (and divert quite a bit from landfills during construction), and create healthier building environments. These are all “pluses.” A building can do all of this without being LEED-certified. Sustainable design is not contingent on any one verification system. However, LEED is a well-known standard that serves as a stamp of approval for high-performance buildings. One great benefit to owners, besides being better stewards of the environment and natural resources, is lower operating costs over the life of the building. It can be a bit harder to justify LEED certification for small projects, but there is a rating system for homes – so it can be done.