An Overview of the LEED Accreditation System

Steve Ellis Projects, Thoughts Comments

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In today’s growing, Green-minded society, buildings are designed to maximize energy efficiency, making the most of renewable and sustainable resources – all key elements that MGB is proud to incorporate into our properties.  These designs and use of resources are often referred to as LEED certified. So, what does LEED certified mean?

LEED is the most widely used verification system for Green building. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and it is changing the way we, as homebuilders and designers, think about planning buildings and communities. This includes how we construct, maintain and operate them from start to finish. LEED works for all buildings, from private homes, like the MGB home designs right here in Sarasota, to large corporations, at all stages of development.

LEED certifies that a building is environmentally responsible, often referred to as Green or sustainable. It designates that a building is designed, built and operated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption, while optimally using the building’s location. And, as a bonus to the owner or homebuyer, Green building also saves money.

LEED has become the most widely used, third-party verification for Green buildings with nearly 1.85 million square feet certified each day. Projects become LEED certified by earning points across several areas specific to sustainability issues. Then, based on the number of points earned, a building will receive one of four LEED ratings – Certified (26-32 credits), Silver (33-38 credits), Gold (39-51 credits) or Platinum (52 credits).

Here at MGB, we are very proud to say that we are sustainable builders! We build with the goal of obtaining LEED certification in mind from start to finish. In fact, two of our projects, the Casey Key Sarasota Beachfront Home and the Siesta Key Beach Vacation Home, have both earned LEED Platinum ratings.

How the LEED Rating System Works

Simply put, a building can obtain LEED certification by earning credits in five key areas of human and environmental health for a total of 69 possible credits. Those five areas are:

  1. Sustainable Sites (14 possible points): To earn points in this category, a building must meet a variety of criteria, including a building’s ability to reduce various types of pollution, like light pollution, and its ability to conserve the site’s natural elements.
  2. Water Savings (5 possible points)
  3. Energy and Atmosphere (17 possible points): This category is all about the installation and performance of a building’s energy systems. Criteria include the efficiency of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems, as well as lighting controls, hot water systems and renewable energy systems like solar or wind.
  4. Materials and Resources (13 possible points): Criteria in this category cover the materials selected for a building, be it recycled content or materials manufactured locally.
  5. Indoor Environment Quality (13 possible points): Criteria in this category are related to creating and maintaining a building’s, indoor air quality. Points are earned through the use of low-emitting materials. Daylight and views are also evaluated according to how much each provides an indoor space. For example, in order to meet the criteria for daylight, it must reach at least 75% of a space. Views, such as through windows and doors, must be available for 90% of a space.
  6. Innovation and Design Process (5 possible points): This additional category awards points for buildings that exceed the minimum criteria in the first five categories, as well as in other Green categories that aren’t specific to the LEED rating system.

Why LEED Certification is Valuable

Obtaining LEED status is a way for all sustainably built structures to be graded on a common scale, so that no one is able to make false, sustainable claims. It is an internationally recognized certification that is constantly evolving to incorporate new standards, developments in technology, designs and ideas. For MGB, and others alike, it is also a great way to promote projects that we are passionate about while sharing our commitment to the environment with our surrounding community.

Most importantly, LEED is a tool to help guide industry professionals as well as clients looking to develop sustainable plans that will lessen the impact of their buildings on the environment. LEED is the ultimate, certifying tool that will help your building be the best that it can!

 

Featured photo credit: MGB Home Builders