What Exactly Is LEED Gold Certification?
With so much interest in businesses being “green” and so many questions about the various “green” certifications, we thought it appropriate to take a moment to discuss the criteria for one of the most well-known and respected certifications…the LEED Gold Certification. Even if you’re not after any certification, you may get some ideas of what you could be doing better, especially with heating and cooling.
A national certification system under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) was established to rate buildings according to their sustainability. The idea is to encourage construction that is beneficial to the environment without wasting valuable resources. The system was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit organization of leaders within the business industry, so there would be consistency in the ratings across the nation.
Certification generally begins with submitting building plans to the council before construction. The council can advise on choice of materials for sustainability. Certification is available for completed buildings but renovations may be required in order to meet the LEED certification standards. Certification is available for all types of buildings from single family homes to health care facilities.
How gold certification is determined
There are four levels of certification that are awarded according to how many points a building acquires by evaluating basic design categories each with mandatory requirements. Gold certification is almost the highest certification available, topped only by platinum. The point breakdown is:
- 45-49 points = Certified
- 50-59 points = Silver
- 60-79 points = Gold
- 80+ points = Platinum
The level of certification is based on points awarded in five design categories which are:
1) Sustainability of the site.
2) Efficiency of the indoor and outdoor water system.
3) Efficient use of energy with proper insulation and environmentally friendly heating and cooling systems.
4) Materials and resources used in a way that minimizes waste and products selected are green.
5) Indoor air quality that uses appliances and ventilation systems in a way that reduces air pollution.
Benefits of certification
If your building is certified, it proves to the public that you have met certain standards and your building has complied with rigorous requirements to meet sustainability and is environmentally safe. LEED certification is recognized worldwide and signifies that your building will make efficient use of resources such as energy and water and will cost less to operate.
LEED certified buildings are eligible for tax rebates and in many areas, there are zoning benefits. The certification increases the property values and other state and local benefits are often available.