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February 2010
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Where will the buildings of the Future LEED us?

Build a house, a commercial, any space with an environmental conscious. Think of the life cycle costs (LCC), the benefit-cost ratio. Balance the economic costs with the social and environmental costs. All of this embodies what a LEED certified building is supposed to be.

Recently friends of mine considered having their home designated as LEED certified. With local materials, recycled material, geothermal for heating and cooling and several other features under all the LEED categories this house would be sure to qualify for LEED certifications. They have applied and received all the government incentives for choosing environmentally friendly methods, balanced all the LCC and looked at the benefit-cost ratios and have decided not to apply to LEED Canada.

Why? LEED would become a marketing feature to their house. They are no incentives for being LEED certified. In the end it was just an extra $5000 to say that they were environmentally friendly.

I decided to do a quick Google search on why it is important to register your building with LEED. Here are some of the things that were returned.

  • Buildings that are LEED certified almost always use resources more effectively when compared to traditional buildings that are built to code. Because of this, they are recognized as better for their surrounding environments.
  • LEED certified buildings often provide healthier work and living environments, contributing to higher productivity and improved employee health and comfort.
  • LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: (1. sustainable site development, 2. water efficiency, 3. energy efficiency, 4. materials selection and 5. indoor environmental quality)
  • Encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through the creation and implementation of universally understood and accepted tools and performance criteria.
  • Promotes integrated, whole-building design practices
  • Building amenities include lush rooftop gardens, individual storage units, covered parking for bicycles, proximity to transit lines and direct access to car sharing.

This list could get quite lengthy. There are many benefits to having a LEED certified building.

My argument – if you’re willing to do all the environmentally friendly things to your house, do you really need the label of LEED? And what does that money that you pay for registration go towards?

In the end if we take the steps forward to think of the environment before we think of the bottom line, when we’re constructing, we are taking the right steps forward. LEED certification may only be a ‘label’ but it embodies what designers should be thinking when they start any new design.