When it comes to American energy usage, there are no larger consumers than commercial and industrial scale facilities. According to the United States Energy Information Administration, over half of all the energy consumed this year will come from those two sectors alone. While there’s no getting around the fact that commercial and industrial facilities must consume energy to sustain productivity, there is ample opportunity to improve the efficiency of the buildings. The Environmental Protection Agency claims that 30 percent of the energy consumed in commercial properties is wasted.
Taking measures to reduce the energy waste at commercial and industrial buildings would provide businesses a significant cost savings through a reduction in consumption, in addition to a positive environmental impact.
In order to motivate property owners to reduce the energy consumption at their properties, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) established the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. The program, established in 1998, created a rating system based on the design, construction, operation and maintenance of new or retrofitted properties.
So what are the benefits of becoming LEED certified?
For starters, more efficient energy usage can directly impact an organization’s bottom line. The USGBC claims that owners starting a new building project have seen, on average, a 9.9 percent return on their investment. For existing buildings that are retrofitted to become LEED certified, that number jumps to 19.2 percent.
In addition, LEED certification demonstrates a business’ commitment to the environment in a way that can become a competitive differentiator. Customers may be more likely to do business with an organization that shares their belief in environmental sustainability. In fact, 55 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies committed to a positive social and environmental impact.
In many states, there are also incentives for participating—tax credits, expedited permitting, grants and low-interest loans, just to name a few. Incentives are often scaled based upon where buildings fall on a 100 point scoring system, with every criteria met offering one to two credits. The tier system is as follows:
- Certified: 40-49 points
- Silver: 50-59 points
- Gold: 60-79 points
- Platinum: 80-100 points
If you’re interested in beginning the process of becoming LEED certified, check out some of the renewable energy solutions you can leverage here. Be sure to check back on our energy blog again too, as the second part of this series will explain in more depth the steps that business leaders will have to take in order to gain LEED certification for their facilities.