Introduction to the LEED Green Building Rating System
How LEED Ratings Work and Cabling Considerations
A "green" building is a building that is constructed in a responsible manner that minimizes or eliminates the negative environmental impact of the building on the environment, its community and on the health of its occupants, and reduces natural resource consumption. Historically, how to define and standardize the green building is a long term challenge until the advent of green building rating systems. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the most widely accepted national green building rating system.
Through its use as a design guideline and third-party certification tool, LEED aims to improve occupant well-being, environmental performance and economic returns of buildings using established and innovative practices, standards and technologies. In fact, LEED has been the green building standard of choice for Federal agencies and state and local governments nationwide.
LEED promotes integrated, entire building design and construction practices and encourages awareness various green building benefits. LEED-based green design not only makes a positive impact on public health and the environment, it also reduces operating costs, enhances building and organizational marketability, potentially increases occupant productivity, and helps create a sustainable community. LEED typically recognizes performance in six key areas of human and environmental health:
- Sustainable Site Development
- Water Savings
- Energy Efficiency
- Materials Selection
- Indoor Environmental Quality
- Innovation & Design Process
Since 1998, Members of the U.S. Green Building Council representing all segments of the building industry developed LEED and continue to contribute to its evolution. LEED provides a roadmap for measuring and documenting success for every building types and phase of a building lifecycles.
While understanding LEED is helpful for any enterprise wishing to reduce their environmental impact, it is absolutley critical to gaining green building certification. Fortunately, LEED is a very user-friendly system. In fact, a major contributor to the success of LEED is the simplicity of its credit/point-based the rating system.
For each credit, the LEED standard identifies the detailed intent, requirements, and technologies or strategies to achieve the credit. One or more points are available within each credit, and points are achieved by meeting specified requirements.
The amount of points achieved will determine which level of LEED certification the project is awarded. There are (69) possible points and (4) levels of LEED certification available:
- Certified (26 to 32 points )
- Silver (33 to 38 points)
- Gold (39 to 51 points)
- Platinum (52 to 69 points)
It is important to note that individual products and services do not earn projects points.
LEED-NC (V2.2) Point Breakdown
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program is a credit/point-based rating system, in which the credits represent different strategies for achieving stated goals. Points are awarded within each credit in each of the following six categories:
- Sustainable Sites - seeks to limit development to only appropriate sites, reuse existing buildings, sites or both, protect natural and agricultural areas, and reduce need for automobiles.
- Water Efficiency - reduces the quantity of water needed and the municipal water supply and treatment burden.
- The Energy and Atmosphere - establishes energy efficiency and system performance, optimize energy efficiency, encourage renewable and alternative energy sources, and supply ozone protection protocols.
- Materials and Resources - seeks to reduce the amount of materials needed, use materials with less environmental impact, and reduce and manage waste.
- Indoor Environmental Quality - establishes good indoor air quality; eliminates, reduces and manages the sources of indoor pollutants; ensures thermal comfort and system controllability; and provides for occupant connection to the outdoors.
- Innovation in Design - recognize exceptional performance in any achieved LEED-NC credit; recognize innovation in green building categories not specifically addressed by LEED-NC credits such as acoustics, community enhancement, education, and expertise in sustainable design. Many issues specific to projects that are not addressed by the existing credit structure may be included in the Innovation & Design Process category.
The rating system contains (7) prerequisites, all of which MUST be met in order to qualify for any certification level, and (69) potential points:
- Sustainable Sites: 8 credits, 14 points available
- Water Efficiency: 3 credits, 5 points available
- Energy and Atmosphere: 6 credits, 17 points available
- Materials and Resources: 7 credits, 13 points available
- Indoor Environmental Quality: 8 credits, 15 points available
- Innovation and Design: 4 points available
- LEED Accredited Professional: 1 point available
The Following is a Detailed Summary of the Prerequisites, Credits and Points
Sustainable Sites (SS)
|1. Construction Activity Pollution Prevention|
|SS Credits||Eligible Points|
|1. Site Selection|
|2. Development Density & Community Connectivity||1|
|3. Brownfield Redevelopment||1|
|4. Alternative Transportation||4.1: Public Transportation Access||1|
|4.2: Bicycle Storage & Changing Rooms||1|
|4.3: Low Emitting & Fuel Efficient Vehicles||1|
|4.4: Parking Capacity||1|
|5. Site Development||5.1: Protect or Restore Habitat||1|
|5.2: Maximize Open Space||1|
|6. Stormwater Design||6.1: Quantity Control||1|
|6.2: Quality Control||1|
|7. Heat Island Effect: Non-Roof||7.1: Heat Island Effect: Non-Roof||1|
|7.2: Heat Island Effect: Roof||1|
|8. Light Pollution Reduction||1|
|Total Possible Points||14|
|WE Credits||Eligible Points|
|1. Water Efficient Landscaping||1.1: Reduce by 50%||1|
|1.2: No Potable Water Use or No Irrigation||1|
|2. Innovative Wastewater Technologies||1|
|3. Water Use Reduction||3.1: 20% Reduction||1|
|3.2: 30% Reduction||1|
|Total Possible Points||5|
Energy & Atmosphere (EA)
|1. Fundamental Commissioning of the Building Energy System
2. Minimum Energy Performance
3. Fundamental Refrigerant Management
|EA Credits||Eligible Points|
|1. Optimize Energy Performance
2. On-Site Renewable Energy
3. Enhanced Commissioning
4. Enhanced Refrigerant Management
5. Measurement & Verification
6. Green Power
|Total Possible Points||17|
|MATERIALS & RESOURCES (MR)|
|1. Storage & Collection of Recyclables|
|MR Credits||Eligible Points|
|1. Building Reuse||1.1: Maintain 75% of Existing Wall, Floors and Roof||1|
|1.2: Maintain 95% of Existing Walls, Floors and Roof||1|
|1.3: Maintain 50% of Interior Non-Structural Elements||1|
|2. Construction Waste Management||2.1: Divert 50% From Disposal||1|
|2.2: Divert 75% From Disposal||1|
|3. Materials Reuse||3.1: 5%||1|
|4. Recycle Content||4.1: 10% (post-consumer + 1/2 pre-consumer||1|
|4.2: 20% (post-consumer + 1/2 pre-consumer||1|
|5. Regional Materials||5.1: 10% Extracted, Processed and Manufactured Regionally||1|
|5.2: 20% Extracted, Processed and Manufactured Regionally||1|
|6. Rapidly Renewable Materials||1|
|7. Certified Wood||1|
|Total Possible Points||13|
Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ)
|1. Minimum IAQ Performance|
|2. Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) Control|
|SS Credits||Eligible Points|
|1. Outdoor Air Delivery Monitoring||1|
|2. Increased Ventilation||1|
|3. Construction IAQ Management Plan||3.1: During Constructions||1|
|3.2: Before Construction||1|
|4. Low-Emitting Materials||4.1: Adhesives & Sealants||1|
|4.2: Paints & Coatings||1|
|4.3: Carpet Systems||1|
|4.4: Composite Wood & Agrifiber Products||1|
|5. Indoor Chemical & Pollutant Source Control||1|
|6. Controllability of Systems||6.1: Lighting||1|
|6.2: Thermal Comfort||1|
|7. Thermal Comfort||7.1: Design||1|
|8. Daylight & Views||8.1: Daylight 75% of Spaces||1|
|8.2: Views for 90% of Spaces||1|
|Total Possible Points||15|
Innovation & Design Process (ID)
|ID Credits||Eligible Points|
|1. Innovation in Design||1-4|
|2. LEED Accredited Professional||1|
|Total Possible Points||5|
LEED Certification Process
As the green building sector grows exponentially, more and more building professionals, owners and operators are seeing the benefits of green building and LEED certification.
The green building designer and owner representative seeking LEED certification must first become knowledgeable of the requirements of related LEED rating system standard, including the intent, requirements, submittals, and technologies and strategies for each credit and point that must be earned to achieve the desired certification level recognized by LEED. According to USGBC, the typical certification is a three-step process:
- Project Registration
LEED on-line, LEED templates/project check list, submittals etc.
- Technical Review & Support
Reference package, credit inquires and interpretation rulings
- Building Certification Award
Upon documentation submittal and USGBC review
LEED Accredited Professionals™ (LEED AP) are experienced building industry practitioners who have demonstrated their knowledge of integrated design and their capacity to facilitate the LEED certification process on the LEED Professional Accreditation exam. Individual LEED AP members can be found at page of LEED AP Directory on USGBC website.
It is encouraged to have a LEED AP as the project contact and team member for coordinating the LEED process. The presence of a LEED Accredited Professional on a project team will also earn one point toward LEED certification. The LEED scorecard along with documentation is submitted to USGBC for review and if it is deemed to meet their standards, certification is awarded by receiving an award letter, certificate, and plaque. The LEED plaque is recognized US nationwide as a proof and demonstration that a building is environmental responsible, profitable and a healthy place to live and work.
According to the McGraw Hill 2006 Smart Market Report, "green" buildings deliver 3.5% higher occupancy rates, 3% higher rents, and an average increase of 2.5% in building values. They also improve return on investment by 5.6% on average. The value of green building construction starts is expected to exceed $12 billion in 2007.
LEED helps building owners and operators to meet their sustainable operations goals and to reduce the building's environmental impacts and occupation heath over their entire life cycle. As green building practices are becoming more main stream, today, almost all owners will, at the very least, explore making their buildings LEED.
Since the release of LEED NC in March 2000, acceptance of the LEED Green Building Rating System has grown significantly. Over the past few years, over six thousands green buildings have been registered. Similar growth has occurred for USGBC membership (9000+) and LEED APs (33000+).
In the US, the LEED standard has been adopted nationwide by federal agencies, state and local jurisdictions, and interested private companies as the guideline for new sustainable buildings, both public and/or private. LEED is already being used by green building projects in all 50 states and the market continues to grow. According to the USGBC, all new GSA (The General Services Administration), DOE (The Department of Energy), DOI (The Department of the Interior), EPA (The Environmental Protection Agency) and most new military construction projects will require LEED certification to a minimum level.
Much of the credit approval is subject to interpretation and cabling is only one of all associated construction elements of each credit. The LEEDS initiative gives project coordinators the ability to introduce anything that will reduce the impact on the environment. The potential cabling system/service contributions to LEEDS credits should be presented to the LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) on the project. They are typically the ones who can best advise on feasibility of such ideas for consideration.
Although USGBC does not directly certify, promote, or endorse individual manufacturer's products and services, products and services do play a role and can help projects with credit achievement and achieve the environmental and economic goals.
To meet the long term cost-saving and energy-efficient goals, an integrated green design approach is must. Designer and Engineers have to know that different technologies and systems must complement one another. As an ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified manufacturer and an active member of USGBC, Siemon is committed to providing environmental friendly products and services and educating our customers on green initiatives as it relates to network cabling products.
Rev. C, 1/08