Mitigating the climate crisis involves all economic and professional sectors. While individual contributions matter, the contractors who build the places where people live and work have an even greater impact. They are the leaders in shifting global forces, with the resources and skills to create the future humanity needs.
You may be among the many ready to move your enterprise forward and take the reins, but you have questions. What green innovations should you consider, and what steps must you take? Achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification may be the best place to start.
What Is LEED Certification?
Before pursuing LEED certification, it’s crucial to understand that it affects your works in progress, not your business entity or license. Becoming certified allows you to market yourself as a green building expert, but you don’t need to pursue this credential to construct LEED-certified projects.
You can obtain LEED certification on nearly any conceivable project type, including:
- Building design and construction
- Interior design and construction
- Building operation and management
- Neighborhood development
A Brief Overview of the LEED Certification Process
The LEED process works by evaluating your project and assigning credits and points. Points add up toward one of four possible certification tiers, from certified to platinum. Credits represent areas of improvement. Your examiner will look at aspects of your design like:
- Energy and atmosphere
- Materials and resources
- Water efficiency
For example, a building with a combination of solar power, a living green roof and a rainwater collection system could achieve platinum. However, a design with superior insulation, passive solar design and Energy Star appliances could still earn its spot on a different tier.
Steps to LEED Certification
Getting one of your projects LEED certified entails taking the following steps:
- Registration: Fill out the appropriate application and forms and submit payment.
- Application: Once your project is completed, you’ll submit the requisite documentation.
- Certification: Green Buildings Certification, Inc. reviews and certifies your project.
- Promote: While you are free to promote your project however you like, the United States Green Building Council will also use it as a model to educate others, generating further publicity.
Benefits of LEED Certification for Your Business
Climate change has far-reaching impacts on humanity. The question isn’t whether you’ll have to shift toward green building principles but how soon. Establishing yourself as a leader now is a smart step toward ensuring your ongoing profitability.
Governments have begun taking action to address climate change and will continue to do so. When they do, they will need experts who have a proven ability to achieve net zero to spearhead major projects. Becoming such a leader is an excellent opportunity for small businesses to grow their bottom lines through reliable, ongoing work.
LEED Categories and Points Allocations
How can you achieve LEED certification through innovative, sustainable building designs? There are five categories where you can earn points toward your desired tier.
1. Sustainable Sites
This category includes areas including:
- Managing soil runoff and erosion
- Safeguarding soil permeability
- Reducing construction-related pollution
- Encouraging non-toxic pest control and sustainable landscaping
2. Water Efficiency
You can save up to 5 gallons of water by reducing how long you shower, but LEED-certified builds minimize human error. They use low-flow fixtures and innovations like automatic shut-offs so that no one accidentally leaves the sink running. They may also capture rainwater or redirect greywater for irrigation use.
3. Energy and Atmosphere
Projects in the highest LEED tiers use solar energy to create a continuous, independent power source. They might also harness wind and water to meet their needs. Finally, this category includes improving insulation to safeguard against energy loss.
4. Materials and Resources
This category includes choosing sustainably harvested materials that don’t strain the Earth’s natural resources, such as hemp, bamboo, cork and recycled and repurposed materials.
5. Indoor Air Quality
Did you know there are thousands of known chemicals in various household products? Projects that score high use products with minimal or no volatile organic compounds to improve indoor air quality. Effective heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems help manage common allergens like pet dander and dust.
6. Location and Transportation
A single building is insufficient. This category encompasses layouts that preserve urban green space and facilitate clean transportation, such as neighborhoods and shopping centers with protected bike lanes, ample pedestrian walkways and easy access to public transportation.
There’s still much room for growth in green building. It’s one of the areas with the greatest profit potential. Can your crew be the one to improve solar technology, making it possible to power a whole hospital with all its heavy energy demands? Think of the payoff if you do.
8. Regional Priority
Some environmental issues affect specific locales more than others. This category recognizes innovation in meeting these challenges, such as improved protection for buildings in flood or hurricane zones.
9. Education and Awareness
The best-designed building is only as sustainable as the people using it daily. This category honors builders for providing occupants with a walk-through and instructions on how to operate and maintain their green facility.
How to Get Started With LEED Certification
You’ve identified an upcoming project and want to distinguish your business as a leader by obtaining LEED certification. Here are the steps to take to build a better future.
1. Assess Project Eligibility and Compatibility
Your project doesn’t have to achieve net zero to attain LEED certification. Sustainability takes many moving parts. For example, your project may be a perfect match for an innovative new water recapture system but lack solar power. Remember, LEED uses a point system, meaning you could earn enough in one area to get you on the map, even if you have room for improvement elsewhere.
Examine all nine categories when assessing potential project eligibility. Thinking more mindfully about what you can realistically improve with the resources you currently have will help you achieve innovation that drives profits.
2. Collaborate With LEED Certified Professionals
Remember, individuals can earn LEED accreditation in various fields. Hire these individuals or bring them on as consultants to assist you in developing the most sustainable design.
3. Implement Sustainable Practices and Track Documentation
Fortunately, the LEED application serves as your blueprint for attaining certification for your project. Your primary focus is to implement the sustainable practices laid forth in your plan and document everything to ensure you pass your review with flying colors.
How Your Green Company Can Achieve LEED Certification
Construction company owners have a unique opportunity to build the future. The choices they make in adopting sustainable practices ensure ongoing profitability. LEED certification sets your organization apart as a leader, and your extra efforts now could pay off in sizable returns.
Follow this guide to achieve LEED certification for your next project. Consider ways to implement sustainable practices in every build you design, and consider going green as your blueprint for creating a bright and profitable future.