What LEED Certification is and What it Means for Your Business: Part 2

what-leed2-smAs explained in Part 1 of this series, LEED certification is a powerful tool for the owners of large-scale commercial or industrial properties looking to make their buildings energy-efficient.  LEED provides a series of steps that building owners must take in order for their buildings to qualify as environmentally friendly.  But Version 4 of LEED, which rolls out in November of 2016, comes with a number of policy changes that will be of interest to anyone looking to move forward with the process.

Whereas the last article answered some of the basic concepts about what LEED certification is and why it matters to business owners today, this article will provide some of the initial steps that you can take to get the process started, as well as the key changes in Version 4 that you should be aware of.

Beginning steps to LEED certification

Before you begin the process of getting LEED certified, one of the best investments that you can make is to contract with a LEED certification consultant.  The process is full of deadlines, regulations, environmental codes and fees which can be overwhelming for someone that hasn’t been through it before.  Consultants will ensure that the process goes smoothly so that your project stays on track and on budget.  A quick online search can help you find the ideal candidate in an area near you.

You’ll also need to determine which rating system is most suited for your project.  Because many different types of buildings can qualify for LEED certification, there are many different projects that you can complete to earn the required credits.  But not all options will bear relevance to your business.  Read USGBC’s Selection Guidance resources, as well as their step-by-step roadmap, to make sure you’re on the right track.

Once you’ve decided which level of certification will meet your needs and you’ve figured out the administrative components, you can get to work figuring out which projects you want to take on in order to reach the requisite number of credits to achieve your goal.  You can see the complete checklist of credit options here.

Now that you have a better idea of the scope of your project, you’ll need to ensure you have the necessary funding for registration and other fees affiliated with going through the LEED certification process.  You can see a list of costs you may encounter here.

What’s new in LEED Version 4?

If you registered a project prior to October 31, 2016, you’ll be able to continue utilizing the now outdated rating system.  But any project that was registered after that date will fall under LEED v4.  There are three key changes that have been introduced to the latest iteration:

  1. As LEED has become a globally recognized symbol of environmental design, the latest rollout will cater to global projects. Because not all countries follow the same guidelines, LEED v4 will account for regional and local equivalent standards so projects can still receive credits even if they don’t meet the standards of a stricter region;
  2. LEED v4 also expands the program’s rating system to include new types of measures to meet the unique needs of specific building types. This includes, but is not limited to, existing schools, retail, data centers, warehouses, distribution centers, hospitality and mid-sized residential complexes; and
  3. There were also several policy changes related to building design and construction. Project owners can now earn credits for building on sites designated as LEED Neighborhood Developments.  You can also earn credits for doing a site assessment to ensure that a building fits with the surrounding environment.

Now that you have a more thorough understanding of the LEED process, you’ll be ready to begin the process for yourself.  To learn more about the energy choices you can make to achieve certification, click here.

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