“Green Building” and “Sustainability” are terms that are getting thrown around a lot lately. But what do they actually mean and how can you “build green?” There are many green building standard systems that are guidelines for helping to guide the design and construction team to the highest environmental building standards. These systems should be engaged in the early design stages.
The purpose of these building standards are to change the way not only buildings are designed, but also communities. They recognize that we need ways of designing and constructing buildings that are environmentally friendly and sustainable. Buildings and communities have potential to support all positive aspects of life. They can promote the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit. The two major evaluation systems used in the US are LEED and Green Globes.
Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, LEED, is a point system that has four certification levels: Certified (40-49 points), Silver (50-59 points), Gold (60-69 points), and Platinum (80+ points). LEED can be used for any type of building or community. Within the LEED system are five different rating systems: Building Design and Construction (BD+C), Interior Design and Construction (ID+C), Building Operations and Maintenance (O+M), Neighborhood Development (ND), and Homes. LEED looks at more than the building and construction. The 9 categories scored are: Integrative process, Location & transportation, Sustainable sites, Water efficiency, energy & Atmosphere, Materials & resources, Indoor environmental quality, Innovation, Regional priority.
For a project to become LEED certified it must first be registered with the U.S Green Building Council. The Green Building Certification Institute reviews LEED applications; after which the building’s performance is measured and verified.
Green Globes was developed by EDC Energy and Environment in Canada. Their program in the United States is called the Green Building Initiative and can be used for new or existing buildings. Green Globes is based on a 1,000-point scale with ratings varying from one globe to four: one globe (35%), two globes (55-69%), three globes (70-84%), four globes (85% or more). Green Globes is less time consuming and cheaper than LEED. The certification process is a self-assessment done online.