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Is LEED ?just not right? for your project?

Do you wonder if there are other options to tout your sustainability or gain recognition for reducing your energy and operating costs? Do you want to do what is right for the environment, but feel that the USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification program is not appropriate for your project?

1. Check out different green building rating systems
While LEED is certainly the elephant in the room, other green building rating systems are gaining market share. Green Globes, sister to Britain’s BREEAM rating system, is widely recognized in Canada and is starting to make an impact here in the states as well. Green Globes is a web-based certification program that includes an onsite assessment by a third party. The Green Globes rating system uses a 1,000 point scale to assess the overall environmental impact. One to four Green Globes are awarded based on the percentage of the 1,000 points earned.

One example of an ESD Green Globes project is the Capital One offices at 77 West Wacker – Chicago, Illinois.

2. Consider LEED v4
The USGBC will be releasing LEED v4 in the third quarter of this year. As part of this update, LEED is also offering more building type specific certification options. Waiting for LEED v4 may be beneficial for project types that were previously considered “difficult to certify”. The revised and new certification types – which will be offered in addition to the existing New Construction, Core and Shell, Schools, Commercial Interiors, and Existing Buildings certifications – include:

  • Data center
  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality
  • Retail
  • Warehouse and distribution centers

3. Participate in utility and/or local, regional, or national green building incentive programs
For existing buildings, many cities and states such as New York City and the state of California are implementing policies that require public disclosure of whole building energy consumption. Other cities have implemented voluntary reporting and improvement programs. The City of Chicago has launched the Retro-fit Chicago program to help encourage existing buildings to reduce their overall energy consumption. Whether required or voluntary, local programs can provide buildings with an avenue for show casing their energy efficiency and sustainability efforts relative to similar buildings within their market.

Many utilities offer cash incentives for proven energy efficiency designs or upgrades. For example, ComEd offers both prescriptive and performance based incentives for implementing energy efficiency projects in both new construction and renovation projects. The federal government offers a variety of tax credits and exemptions for energy efficiency projects as well. Check out dsireusa.org for more information regarding financial incentives at both the local and national level.