High standards Green-building rating systems are typically based on how something measures up to a standard. One of the first standards of measure that comes to my mind is when a burly physical-education teacher at my high school gruffly told me to do chin-ups. After achieving zero, my ability was marked “average.” When my best friend pulled her chin over the bar two consecutive times, my allegiance to keeping her as my friend was cemented. Staring at her in awe, it was obvious that the only rating she could have earned for her performance was “freak.” Movie ratings are another great example. Fortunately, measuring standards for decency and violent content is much more subjective and personal than the systems in place for measuring and rating green buildings.
Green giants Two popular nongovernmental, nonprofit organizations that have developed green-building rating systems for the U.S. commercial and residential building markets are the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and The Green Building Initiative (GBI). The USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system (referred to as LEED) consists of different rating systems for certifying buildings: New Construction (LEED NC), Commercial Interiors (LEED CI) and Core and Shell (LEED CS) are some of them. LEED provides a complete framework for assessing building performance and meeting sustainability goals within six categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation in Design. The categories are designed to promote a whole-building approach to sustainability and to recognize performance in areas of human and environmental health. Based on a point system, a LEED-registered project can attain one of four levels of certification: certified, silver, gold, and the highest rating of platinum.
Taking the LEED For a firsthand look at the first planned Chico State LEED-gold building, check out the new Student Services Center (SSC) located on the southwest corner of campus. Stroll into the men’s bathroom to see the waterless urinals installed to reduce the building’s potable water demand. Visit the kiosk on the first floor to learn more about the building’s green features. Be sure to ride the B-Line when visiting the SSC because the project earned one point for being located within a quarter mile of a public bus stop. The second LEED project under construction at Chico State is the Wildcat Recreation Center, which is attempting to earn the silver rating. In addition to the LEED rating system, the USGBC also offers professional accreditation, training and other informative resources.
Stay tuned … My interest and focus is primarily on commercial buildings and the USGBC LEED rating system. GBI and how it applies to commercial and residential projects will be saved for my next column (in the Nov. 20 issue). In the meantime, Greg Kallio, my nerdier (his word, not mine) writing partner will provide information about greening your home next week—and every other week thereafter. Find out more about the USGBC by checking out the organization’s Web site (www.usgbc.org) and by coming back to Sustainable Space!