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LEED Certification - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

In recent years, the use of the word ‘green’ has become more and more common within the circle of construction and real estate developers throughout the US. Then it was phrases such as LEED certification, LEED certification requirements and LEED exam that crept in. To those who are not concerned about the environment it means very little, but too many it was the beginning of the nationwide endeavor to preserve, recycle and eliminate the unnecessary waste of our natural resources.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, better known as LEED, was formed in 2000 and has become a cornerstone in building standards and environmental concerns. Actually, LEED has grown from a small group of concerned developer/contractors, consisting of about six volunteers, who wanted to add quality to their work, save energy and better their communities. Then catching the attention of consumers all over the nation who were just as concerned with their environment has blossomed into LEED certification and LEED certification requirements so extensive it is mandated by many cities for all new building projects and extensive remodels or renovations. The goal of LEED is to make sure the performance of each building meets the environmental needs of the community, as well as, the building, itself, maintaining a more eco-friendly design.

Numerous contractor/developers and/or realtors are working toward meeting LEED and other green standards by taking the LEED exam to qualify them as LEED Accredited Professionals (LEED AP) even in areas where LEED certification is not mandatory. It is a growing trend and the future path of the building industry. It puts these LEED professionals way ahead of the game.

Green building, LEED certification, and environmental issues have been concerns for years for many companies and organizations. The increasing number of mandated LEED certification requirements, even on a federal government level, has brought the green standard into all levels of city codes and ordinances.

LEED accreditation can be obtained by taking and passing one of the various versions of the LEED exam. It lets those concerned know companies are knowledgeable on the LEED system and will follow the guidelines to attain LEED certification. Exams are given in a multiple-choice format and are $300 for those who work within the building industry. The LEED AP exam costs $450 to all others.

The LEED certification requirements involve the use of recycled material, re-using existing material whenever possible thus eliminating or greatly reducing waste, using natural resources that have been attained without destroying any ecological balances. They stress the importance of using green building material wherever possible and the use of products such as caulk and sealers that give off little to no (low emitting) toxic fumes, etc.

LEED certified projects shine a positive image on the community which is another reason those in the building profession are encouraging their teams to take the LEED exam. The LEED Accredited Professionals (AP) are generally recognized as an expert and are able to help ensure each project they work on will meet the standards of the community.

It makes sense when they know that using green building practices will result in energy efficiency, cost reductions, and the need for later work having to be done through the life of their structures. In addition, it is a good feeling for the consumer to know he has done his/her best to help the environment.

LEED 2009
The US Green Building Council (GBC) has updated its rating system for buildings which it introduced in 2001. More than 15000 buildings have sought the LEED certification during that period. LEED 2009 certification standards will further reduce greenhouse gas emissions that result from commercial buildings. Its been estimated that 40% of all emissions and energy use come from such buildings.

LEED 2009 consolidates its previous certification levels and implements a point system that includes rewards for proximity to mass transit centers. Water efficiency also plays a more important role under LEED 2009.