LEEDing transformation

Popular building standard keeps evolving

Wildcat Recreation Center

Wildcat Recreation Center

Photo By Jasmine Roufchaie

Sustainable Space columnists Lori Brown and Greg Kallio are professors in the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Construction Management at Chico State University.

Check it out
If you are skeptical and not sure whether building to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards is important, take a moment to bike by the newest Chico State LEED building, the Wildcat Recreation Center, on the corner of West Second and Cherry streets. It is built to LEED for New Construction Version 2.2 standards and on track for earning a gold rating. And you have to admit, it is a beautiful, sustainably built space.

Evolving system
USGBC’s LEED Green Building Rating System is the most recognized system of green-building metrics and building certification used by the sustainable-building industry. The first LEED system, LEED Version 1.0, used to define and measure “green buildings” was launched in August 1998. It was extensively modified and renamed LEED Green Building Rating System Version 2.0 in March 2000. LEED Version 2.1 was introduced in 2002 and LEED Version 2.2 in 2005. Did you get all that? Good.

The new deal
In order to keep up with the growth and changes occurring practically daily in the green-building field, USGBC again has updated its popular LEED rating system, and is this time referring to it as LEED 2009. Beginning last month, all new LEED construction projects must register using the newest rating systems. Out with the old and in with the new.

Depending on the project scope, builders can choose from: LEED for Core & Shell, LEED for New Construction, LEED for Schools, LEED for Neighborhood Development, LEED for Retail, LEED for Healthcare, LEED for Homes and LEED for Commercial Interiors.

Ongoing care
LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (LEED EB: O&M) is specifically devoted to building-operation and maintenance issues. It is the best system for owners wanting ongoing accountability for the performance of their building throughout the structure’s life expectancy, and for maintaining the building’s greenness. If I had a crystal ball, I’d predict it as the rating-system standard mandated for all existing California buildings.

Building a project to meet a green-building rating standard is important, but maintaining its sustainability is even more important. LEED EB: O&M encourages building owners and operators to implement sustainable practices and reduce the environmental impacts during the course of their structures’ functional lifecycles.

It considers much more than reduced energy demands and water conservation. LEED EB: O&M addresses exterior building-site maintenance programs, water and energy use, environmentally preferred products and practices for cleaning and alterations, sustainable-purchasing policies, waste-stream management and ongoing indoor environmental quality.

In and out
Long-term maintenance practices protect the environment and reduce damage that could become difficult to repair if left unchecked. LEED EB: O&M is the only rating system that has a metric (credit) for both materials in and materials out.

Materials-in credits are associated with planning and executing a sustainable-purchasing policy. These credits include purchases of sustainable items, such as ongoing consumables, durable goods, including furniture and electric-powered equipment, facility alterations and additions, light bulbs and food. Materials-out credits primarily are concerned with the implementation of a solid-waste-management policy.

These credits involve conducting waste-stream audits and implementing alternative methods, such as recycling, for disposal of consumables, durable goods, and debris from facility alterations and additions. Projects following the LEED EB: O&M rating system must recertify the building every five years in order to maintain the building’s certification.

Taking the plunge
LEED-certified buildings demonstrate an owner’s commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility. The buildings are designed to lower operating expenses, reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills, and be healthier and safer for occupants. Building the Wildcat Recreation Center to LEED standards makes sense. After all, a building designed for keeping people fit should be healthy, too!