Glenn Rasin

By: Glenn Rasin on August 2nd, 2019

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What is LEED Certification and Why is it Important?

The demand for more sustainable buildings is growing. The combined effects from growth in environmental legislation and the demand from tenants and shareholders to reduce environmental impacts are requiring property managers to both understand and take responsibility for the environmental performance of their facility.

The best way to benchmark and report your building’s sustainability performance is through LEED Certification. 

In this article, we define LEED Certification, review the benefits of LEED Certification, and go over how to achieve LEED certification.

What is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)?

LEED or (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to set a benchmark for design, construction, maintenance, and operation of high-performance green buildings and homes. 

According to USGBC, Green building is the practice of designing, constructing and operating buildings to maximize occupant health and productivity, use fewer resources, reduce waste and negative environmental impacts, and decrease life cycle costs.

LEED Certification is the most widely used global standard that recognizes buildings that are efficient, cost-effective, and better for occupants and the environment.

LEED certification can be applied to new or existing buildings and homes looking to become sustainable.  

Why is LEED Certification Important? 

LEED certification is beneficial for you, your occupants, and the environment. 

For You:

Green buildings are becoming increasingly important and tenants are demanding more sustainable buildings. 

LEED certification will enhance your facility’s image and establish you as a leader in green building. Because sustainable buildings are more positively perceived in today’s market, you will be able to charge higher lease rates.

Green buildings also cost less to operate. They use fewer resources like water and energy and generate less waste, leading to decreased utility costs. 

Pulling Levers for Green Building

For Building Occupants: 

Green buildings support a healthier indoor space. Benchmarks such as thermal comfort, indoor air quality, and interior lighting support the comfort and health of building occupants. 

For building managers of offices, green buildings mean more productive places. They have been shown to boost productivity as well as retention. For example, occupants will be exposed to fewer volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions in the indoor air and the VOC content of materials such as cleaning chemicals. Buildings could otherwise have toxic chemical smells that can distract and even cause employee illness, ultimately impacting employee satisfaction and productivity.

LEED certification for schools and healthcare facilities is important for fostering an indoor environment that supports improved air quality and occupant health.

For The Environment: 

LEED certified buildings reduce stress on the environment. They are more energy and resource-efficient. They generate less waste and lower the use of energy, water, and other resources.

Points can be earned for storage and collection of recyclables, renewable energy use, and indoor water use reduction.

How Can I Get My Project LEED Certified? 

LEED v4.1 is the most current standard. To achieve LEED certification a project must satisfy prerequisites and achieve a minimum number of points in each of the different categories. 

Office Buildings in City

The first step is to choose the rating system your project falls under.

There are currently six rating systems:

  1. Building Design and Construction 
  2. Interior Design and Construction 
  3. Operations and Maintenance 
  4. Residential
  5. Cities and Communities
  6. Recertification 

In each of the six rating systems there are different categories to earn points. 

The second step would be to evaluate the criteria in each category and determine the points you can successfully attain. 

Categories include: 

  • Location & Transportation
  • Sustainable Sites
  • Water Efficiency
  • Energy & Atmosphere
  • Materials & Resources
  • Indoor Environmental Quality
  • Innovation 

Once submitting the points, they will be reviewed. 

For every point that you earn, they will be added to the total worth of your project. Depending on how many points your building earns, your project can be Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum. 

For more information on LEED, visit: https://new.usgbc.org/leed

So What Points Should You Apply For? 

Green building 1

As a property manager, you will likely be most concerned with the operations and maintenance rating system. 

This rating system is for buildings that are fully operational and occupied for at least one year. 

The easiest and most cost-effective points within the operations and maintenance rating system you can work to achieve are:

  1. Indoor Environmental Quality 
    Implementing and Adhering to a Green Cleaning Policy 
  2. Materials and Resources 
    Monitoring Waste Performance 
    Purchasing and Using Environmentally Preferable Products and Equipment
  3. Water Efficiency
    Improve Water Performance

1. Indoor Environmental Quality

Implementing and Adhering to a Green Cleaning Policy 

Implementing and adhering to a Green Cleaning Policy is essential to earning green cleaning points. Green cleaning will help reduce the levels of chemical, biological, and particulate contaminants in your building. A Green Cleaning Policy will establish guidelines for efficient and effective cleaning procedures and the regulations for using environmentally preferable commercial cleaning supplies and janitorial power equipment. 

You can achieve up to 3 points for successfully implementing a Green Cleaning Policy. 

 

2. Materials and Resources

 

Monitoring Waste Performance 

Green Monitoring

This category is meant to track and reduce the amount of waste from your facility and it’s occupants. 

One way to reduce waste is by implementing storage locations for recyclable materials, including mixed paper, corrugated cardboard, glass, plastics, and metals throughout your facility.

You can achieve 3-8 points

Purchasing and Using Environmentally Preferable Products and Equipment

This section is to encourage the purchase of products which lower the number of unsustainable products and equipment being used throughout your facility. To earn these points, supplies, and equipment should be made from recycled materials, bio-based materials, or be third-party certified to confirm they have a reduced effect on human health and the environment.

Commercial cleaning supplies and janitorial cleaning equipment can be certified by various third-party organizations to confirm their reduced effect on human health and the environment. Cleaning supplies can be certified by the EPA, ASTM, Green Seal, and more. Janitorial power equipment can be certified by ENERGY STAR, Carpet and Rug Institute Seal of Approval, and others

You can achieve up to 4 points in this category.

4. Water Efficiency 

Improve Water Performance

Water performance is about monitoring and reducing the overall amount of water your building uses. An example of one way your facility can lower water consumption is by installing high-efficiency fixtures such as auto flushers or hands free faucets.

You can earn 6-15 points for improved water management. 

 

Visit the USGBC to learn more about the different points you can achieve in the operations and maintenance rating system.


Final Thoughts 

LEED certification is becoming one of the most demanded certifications by tenants as sustainability grows in importance.

Whether you are applying for LEED certification for the first time or are looking to increase your current LEED rating, EBP can help. 

We are fully versed in LEED certification requirements and can help you formulate or enhance your green cleaning program to help you attain your sustainability goals and achieve LEED certification. 

We can help make the adoption of your cleaning program easier to implement and maintain with our wide variety of environmentally preferable commercial cleaning supplies and janitorial power equipment.

Let an EBP Specialist review your facility’s current cleaning and maintenance protocols and recommend the best environmentally preferable products and energy-efficient equipment.

Visit our site to learn more about our environmentally friendly solutions today.

About Glenn Rasin

Glenn Rasin is the Chemical Specialist for EBP Supply Solutions and Lead Trainer for the EBP Training Academy, which offers CMI-certified training courses for supervisory and front-line cleaning professionals throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. He is an ISSA CMI-certified trainer, with over 35 years of experience in the janitorial and sanitation industry.