Going green is all the rage.
If your company continues to neglect this trend, there may come a time in the near future when the competition has passed you by in this department.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to become LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. This may sound like a hassle.
It may even sound like something that will cost a lot of money. However, every step you take is one that will push your company forward in regards to going green.
What is LEED Certification?
Before you decide for or against LEED certification, you need to learn more about this program.
LEED.net defines LEED certification as follows:
“Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is basically a third-party certification program. It is a nationally accepted organization for design, operation and construction of high performance green buildings. This ensures the buildings are environmentally compatible, provide a healthy work environment and are profitable.”
While this is the basic definition of LEED certification, it goes much deeper than that. In addition to environmental benefits, when a company moves in this direction it will experience a variety of advantages.
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LEED Certification Qualifications
LEED certification is not difficult to understand. In fact, there is a set of minimum program requirements to ensure that anybody interested in certification knows exactly what is expected of them.
As you attempt to determine if LEED certification makes sense for your project, it’s important to understand the three basic minimum program requirements, as shared by the U.S. Green Building Council:
- The building must be located in a permanent location on existing land.
- Must use reasonable LEED boundaries.
- Must comply with all project size requirements.
Why are there minimum program requirements? These requirements are in place to define the types of buildings that are eligible for LEED certification. Through the implementation of the above requirements, these goals are attainable:
- To give clear guidance to customers.
- To reduce complications during certification.
- To protect the integrity of the LEED program.
A Breakdown of the Minimum Requirements
1. The Building Must be Located in a Permanent Location on Existing Land
All LEED projects are required to be constructed and operated in a permanent location on existing land. If the building is designed to move from location to location, at any point now or in the future, it is not eligible for LEED certification.
2. Muse Use Reasonable LEED Boundaries
The project boundary must include all contiguous land associated with the project and supported by ongoing operations. This can include but is not limited to any land that is altered during the construction project.
3. Must Comply With All Project Size Requirements
There are several size requirements, including:
- The project must include a minimum of 1,000 square feet of gross floor area (LEED BD+C and LEED O+M Rating Systems).
- The project must include a minimum of 250 square feet of gross floor area ( LEED ID+C Rating Systems).
- The project must contain a minimum of two habitable buildings, exceeding no more than 1,500 acres (LEED for Neighborhood Development Rating Systems).
How to Obtain LEED Certification
At this point, you have a better idea of what LEED certification is all about, including the minimum requirements. Now, it’s time to review the process for becoming LEED certified.
The U.S. Green Building Council shares a Guide to LEED Certification for commercial businesses, citing a four step process:
- Register your project by completing the necessary forms and paying required fees.
- Apply for certification by submitting your application through the LEED online system, located here.
- Wait while your application is reviewed by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI).
- Receive your certification decision. At this point, you will learn if you have earned LEED certification or need to make changes to improve your chances in the future.
How Much Does it Cost?
LEED certification is not free, as you are required to pay the following:
- Registration fee
- Certification fee
- Other fees associated with expedited reviews, possible appeals, and other processes, should they be necessary.
A building design certification for an organizational level or non-member is accompanied by fees of:
- Registration fee of $1,200
- $4,250 per building ($5,000 for expedited review)
For other fee information, visit this page of the U.S. Green Building Council website.
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If going green is in your future, it is time to consider the benefits of LEED certification. By following the necessary steps and meeting all the requirements, you may find yourself holding this coveted certification soon enough.