LEED Benefits are Starting to Materialize

Although LEED has been a little slow getting off the ground, it’s gaining momentum quickly. The increased awareness of the need for sustainability has given a lot of impetus to LEED, both domestically and overseas. All in all, the United States accounts for a little over half of the LEED certified buildings, with the number of buildings that are being built to meet LEED requirements and the number of older buildings being upgraded to meet LEED requirements increasing.

LEED Platinum Certified Building
LEED Platinum Certified Building

This demonstrates an increased awareness in the United States in our responsibility to reduce our resource consumption. As the United States is the world’s number one consumer of electricity, water and other resources, our reductions provide opportunities for emerging countries to have greater access to these resources.

In 2005, green buildings accounted for only two percent of non-residential construction starts. This grew to 12 percent in 2008, and 28 percent in 2010. By 2015, and estimated 40 to 48 percent of non-residential construction starts will be green buildings. These figures include both public and private sector new construction starts. For commercial building projects in excess of 50 million dollars, a whopping 71% make reference to LEED in their specifications.

LEED is not a regional phenomenon either. The leading states for LEED construction and certification are scattered across the country, from New York to California and from Minnesota to Texas. Even Washington, D.C. is listed high amongst the parts of the nation which are focusing on building green.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification provides a number of benefits to building owners who decide to seek certification. While building a LEED certifiable building adds about two percent to the cost of design and construction, the savings over the building’s life cycle are somewhere between 12.2 and 16.8 times that much.

In addition, property values for LEED certified structures are higher than those which are merely built to meet building code requirements. While this is hard to quantify for commercial buildings, homes that are LEED certified have an average resale value of eight percent higher than comparable homes which do not meet the requirements to receive LEED certification. That’s four times the investment required to make the home LEED compliant.
LEED also provides a healthier work environment for employees. While there hasn’t been any studies done to calculate the savings in lost employee hours, it is obvious that a healthier work environment helps reduce lost time due to sickness. Companies who invest in providing this healthier work environment are rewarded with a happier, healthier workforce, increasing productivity.

By incorporating LEED design requirements into buildings, American companies are becoming more responsible global citizens. This pays benefits in more ways than just the bottom line. With the greater awareness of sustainability in the world today, companies that “go green” are seen as socially conscious members of the community. Those who don’t are seen as being interested in making money. While all companies need to make money in order to survive, public relations have a lot to do with any company’s ability to do so.

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