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Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is a certification that more and more developers and contractors strive for. Started in 2000, LEED certification is awarded for multiple criteria for sustainability. a building that earns LEED certification meets criteria for a number of standards including sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality” – USGBC : What LEED is 2011

The different types of LEED Certification programs

A building that meets these specific standards can expect to save 25-30% on energy costs over it’s life. Other benefits include an improved level of comfort from the increase in insulation, and its positive effects on regulating temperature. Long term energy savings are only one of the ways building’s can earn points. Points are also awarded for builders who implement “reuse” of existing materials, or increasingly known as “upcycling”.  In the words of my sustainability professor, “recycling is the last in the three R’s because it should always be the last option”. 

Tires “Upcycled” as planter rounds

So who’s applying for LEED? Residential and Commercial alike are finding the green building rating appealing, as home and business alike direct resources towards it. Not too surpassing, but some government buildings are also being built to earn more of the green points required to get a certified, silver, gold, or even platinum rating. One possible deterrent for smaller home owners, is the high sticker price for certification, which starts around $3,000. There are some tax advantages to the process, but it varies by type of construction as much as it depends on the location of the building. 

All new public buildings in Sarasota, FL have to meet LEED Silver like this newly constructed Police Station did.

LEED certification is a major step towards the development of long term resource management in the real estate industry. The system is far from perfect, and new standards are being presented all the time. Some states have even gone as far as banning public buildings from money appropriations used for green certifications. These petitions are largely a product of major timber, plastic, and chemical companies protesting the lack of recognition of their products on the US Green Building Council. With daily figures of one half million square feet of real estate receiving LEED status, some big industries are taking the gloves off.  

Sustainable materials are commanding a higher price and higher profits, leaving many of the material giants upset.