LEEDing the Way

June 1, 2006
In today's active construction environment, it's not enough to just build a building the trend is to construct a building.

In today's active construction environment, it's not enough to just build a building — the trend is to construct a “green” building.

As education facilities go through the planning, design and construction process, more institutions are incorporating into their projects principles of sustainability, energy efficiency and environmental stewardship. Some are taking the commitment more seriously than others by specifying a specific level of the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Green Building Rating System (see Scorecard at right).

LEED — a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings — has been growing in influence among schools and universities. Slightly more than 100 education facility projects have earned some level of LEED certification.

Many higher-education institutions have embraced the principles of sustainability in new design, but school districts have been slower to put the principles into practice. However, more districts are realizing the long-term benefits of green buildings and their impact on occupant health and performance, energy expenditures, life-cycle operation and maintenance costs, and the environment.

New construction and major renovation are not the only areas in which education institutions can adopt green concepts. Business offices can establish purchasing guidelines that specify green products; maintenance departments can establish green cleaning practices; and environmentally friendly programs can encourage building occupants to commit to sustainability and energy efficiency.

The extent to which education institutions are embracing the green movement is explored in this month's cover story (p. 18).

Whether or not you actually apply for LEED certification, there is no reason why the principles outlined in LEED cannot be incorporated into your next project. If these principles are followed in the early stages of design, many will add little or no cost to a project, yet reap significant performance and cost benefits over the life of the facility.

SCORECARD

26 to 32

Number of points required for a building to receive a “certified” label under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

33 to 38

Number of points required for a building to receive “silver” certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

15

Number of points required for a building to be awarded “gold” certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

52 to 69

Number of points required for a building to receive the top category — “platinum” certification — under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

6

Number of categories under which LEED points can be earned: sustainable sites (14), water efficiency (5), energy and atmosphere (17), materials and resources (13), indoor environmental quality (15), and innovation and design process (5).

Source: U.S. Green Building Council.

About the Author

Joe Agron | Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher

Joe Agron is the editor-in-chief/associate publisher of American School & University magazine. Joe has overseen AS&U's editorial direction for more than 25 years, and has helped influence and shape national school infrastructure issues. He has been sought out for comments by publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, ABC News and CNN, and assisted with the introduction of the Education Infrastructure Act of 1994.

Joe also authors a number of industry-exclusive reports. His "Facilities Impact on Learning" series of special reports won national acclaim and helped bring the poor condition of the nation's schools to the attention of many in the U.S. Congress, U.S. Department of Education and the White House.

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