Auditors for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program have registered and certified more than 100,000 commercial facilities across the globe. LEED certification is pacing more than 2.5 million-plus square feet of space daily, the group notes, signifying how project teams and owners are going “above and beyond to ensure a building is designed, constructed, operated and performing to the highest level of sustainability.”
“In 1998, we created LEED to measure and define what green building meant, and provide a roadmap for developing sustainable buildings,” says USGBC CEO Mahesh Ramanujam. “Today, millions are living, working and learning in LEED-certified buildings around the world. These spaces are mitigating the environmental burden on their communities, saving money and offering the people who occupy them a better quality of life. This latest milestone demonstrates how the global green building community is delivering on the vision we set forth more than 20 years ago.”
The rating system has catalyzed changes in the building industry related to energy, water, waste, and indoor environmental quality. From mainstreaming cool roofs, low-VOC paints, building efficiency and commissioning, to providing the proof of concept enabling dramatic increases in the stringency of energy codes, LEED has defined green building standards, USGBC contends.
During last month’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Atlanta, the Council announced LEED Positive, a vision statement laying the foundation for a “regenerative” building rating system. To address challenges related to water scarcity, air quality and resiliency issues through 2050, LEED Positive will encourage development that allows buildings to become a vehicle for environmental restoration and repair. Proposed targets for energy and carbon reduction will require new construction to go farther and push existing buildings with high energy consumption to substantially increase their efficiency efforts. LEED v4.1 provisions for the latter facility types dovetail LEED Positive goals.
“Existing buildings represent our largest market segment,” notes USGBC Senior Vice President of LEED Technical Core Melissa Baker. “Providing category level performance certificates is an important catalyst in further accelerating the transformation of our existing buildings.”
“We must do all we can to leverage our tools and resources to scale up reductions in carbon emissions associated with buildings, communities and cities,” Ramanujam affirms. “LEED must evolve qualitatively and quantitatively. Qualitatively, it must transition to strategies that cause no harm and are regenerative by design, ensuring our buildings are actually giving back more than they take. And quantitatively it will need to accelerate and increase its impact ten to a hundred-fold by leveraging our Arc performance platform.”
Concurrent with the LEED Positive launch, USGBC announced the availability of Insight, an Arc feature providing information on the design attributes of LEED certified buildings within a specified geographic region. Project teams can compare and rank potential sustainability strategies to see how they stack up against the performance of other buildings. Insight leverages the depth of the existing LEED data to assist design and construction professionals in adopting smart, practical and achievable sustainability strategies.