Green Building Programs Compared

Posted by Ben Licari on Mar 18, 2015

Over the next several posts, we’ll be running a series of posts summarizing the various green building programs currently in use.

Today we start our series with LEED®. Later this week, we’ll be taking a look at Build It Green, StepUp2Green, and CalGreen. LEED® Overview: LEED® is acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies intended to improve performance in metrics such as energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. Key elements of LEED® are:

1. Developed by United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

2. LEED® began in 1993 (V. 1), major update in 2000 (V. 2.0) and 2009 (V. 3.0) 

3. Rigorous certification program for buildings and projects. Very detailed with occasional auditing. Really nice plaque for successfully certified buildings. 

4. USGBC is non-profit and consensus-based. There are four levels: LEED® Certified, LEED® Silver, LEED® Gold, and LEED® Platinum. 

5. LEED® is the most widely accepted standard for commercial buildings in California. Governor Schwarzenegger issued an Executive Order S-20-04 requiring all new and renovated State Buildings to be certified as LEED® Silver or higher.

6. Very detailed, mature program with manuals both online and hard copy (fully supported electronic submittals).

7. Minimum mandatory requirements and numerous electives, very much performance based. It is assumed that commercial buildings will be planned and built by professionals who have the gray matter necessary to perform the complex engineering studies and balancing necessary to optimize a building. 

8. Training and Accreditation required for individuals to hold themselves out as LEED®-Accredited. Accreditation must be supported by concurrent education. In Graniterock’s experience, an adequate training program includes about six months of part time study (including both online and attendance at courses) and taking the exam.

9. Separate programs for Design & Construction (new buildings and major remodels), Operations & Maintenance (existing buildings), and Interior Design & Construction (new core and remodeling). 

10. Also available for Homes, Neighborhoods, Healthcare Facilities, and Schools. Various LEED® Rating systems can be found here:

11. Graniterock currently has four LEED® Accredited Professionals on staff: Ben Licari, Keith Severson, Zack Booth, and Greg Wilkinson. 

12. LEED® was always intended to be voluntary, and really the highest standard of buildings, and is considered by a majority of local professionals as the highest standard of green building”

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