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The Rating System For Commercial Green Building Construction

Posted on May 28, 2014 by Chelsey

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system provides a set of environmental standards for Houston contractors, builders, architects, and build to suit designers. This internationally recognized system was developed by the US Green Building Council in the early 1990s, and since then it has expanded from one standard to a set of interrelated standards for all building projects. Many government and public buildings are now required by law to be LEED certified.

How does LEED work?

LEED is applied throughout the entire building cycle of a project, and it can also be applied to existing structures. It operates on a point system that scores green building construction and design. Points are awarded in five categories: Sustainable Sites, Materials and Resources, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, and Indoor Environmental Quality. Points are given based on how thoroughly buildings meet these standards, and a building’s levels of certification is based on its total points. The certification levels are Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

What is the LEED rating system?

The LEED rating system details the requirements buildings need to meet while on their way to LEED certification. The building and design team, which can include a general contractor, architects, and engineers, chooses one of the five rating systems at the beginning of a project, and this system dictates the environmental goals they need to implement throughout the building process. The rating system for residential projects will not be covered in this article, but the other four rating systems are covered below.

The rating systems:

  • Building Design and Construction
    This rating system applies to new buildings and buildings that are undergoing major reconstruction, and it is broken down into eight categories: New Construction, Core and Shell, Schools, Retail, Hospitality, Data Centers, Warehouse and Distribution Centers, and Healthcare.
  • Interior Design and Construction
    Projects that involve a complete interior overhaul fit into this rating system, and the system is split into the categories Commercial Interiors, Retail, and Hospitality.
  • Building Operations and Maintenance
    Buildings that are receiving some improvement work with little construction are covered here. The rating system is split into six categories: Existing Buildings, Data Centers, Schools, Warehouse and Distribution Centers, Retail, and Hospitality.
  • Neighborhood Development
    This rating system is a little different than the others. It is used for land development and redevelopment projects, and it can apply to residential, non-residential, and mixed sites. The standards can apply to phases of the project ranging from early conceptual planning to construction. There are only two categories here: Plan and Built Project.

The requirements spelled out in each of these rating systems cover all facets of building, but concentrate especially on electrical, plumbing, and fire protections systems, materials, HVAC systems, building envelope modifications, and major interior construction. The goal is to built to suit both the environmental and financial requirements for the project and receive a high level of LEED certification.

Why should buildings be LEED certified?

Besides the environmental benefits, LEED certification provides tangible proof that a building has achieved its environmental goals. The public tends to like green buildings, so LEED certification can add customer appeal and boost confidence about a building’s safety. There are also a variety of state and local government incentives available for LEED certified buildings, and general construction services that are knowledgeable about LEED certification are often more appealing to clients.

The LEED rating system is designed to ensure that a building will receive LEED certification. When construction is finished, the building team files an application for certification, and a neutral third-party representative inspects the building to see if the standards have been met. If the goals set out in the rating system have all been hit, LEED certification will almost surely follow.