Feature Article - November 2011
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Green For Green's Sake

Eco-Friendly Facilities & Operations Yield Economic, Environmental Savings

By Wynn St. Clair

All About LEED

Though it has only been in existence for a little over a decade, progressive recreation managers have made no secret of their desires to follow the LEED rating system when designing their facilities. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design—or LEED, as it is more commonly known—is a voluntary standards and certification program that honors high-performance, eco-friendly buildings.

There are more than 7,000 LEED-certified projects in the United States and 30 other countries. All were built using strategies intended to improve performance in metrics such as energy savings, water efficiency, carbon emissions, improved indoor environmental quality and sensitivity to project impact.

If those weren't reasons enough to embrace the rating system, LEED buildings also have lower operating costs and higher lease rates, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. Occupants also are often healthier and happier than those in conventionally constructed structures, thanks to improved air, thermal and acoustic environments.

Here are some of the many factors that the council considers when certifying buildings:

Sustainable Sites
This category discourages development on previously undeveloped land; and seeks to minimize a building's impact on ecosystems and waterways. It encourages regionally appropriate landscaping and rewards smart transportation choices; Strong designs promote reduction of erosion, light pollution, heat island effect and construction-related pollution.

Water Efficiency
Buildings are major users of our potable water supply. The goal of this category is to encourage smarter use of water, inside and out. Water reduction is typically achieved through more efficient appliances, fixtures and fittings inside and water-conscious landscaping outside.

Energy & Atmosphere
This category encourages a wide variety of energy-wise strategies: commissioning; energy use monitoring; efficient design and construction; efficient appliances, systems and lighting; the use of renewable and clean sources of energy, generated on-site or off-site; and other innovative measures.

Materials & Resources
During the construction and operations phases, buildings generate a lot of waste and use large quantities of materials and resources. The Materials & Resources category encourages the selection of sustainably grown, harvested, produced and transported products and materials. It promotes waste reduction as well as reuse and recycling, and it particularly rewards the reduction of waste at a product's source.

Innovation in Design
The Innovation in Design category provides bonus points for projects that use innovative technologies and strategies to improve a building's performance well beyond what is required by other LEED credits, or to account for green building considerations that are not specifically addressed elsewhere in LEED. This category also rewards projects for including a LEED Accredited Professional on the team to ensure a holistic, integrated approach to the design and construction process.

Source: U.S. Green Building Council