LEED: The Basics of Green Building Strategy
It’s fairly common these days to hear terms like “green building,” “environmentally friendly,” “sustainable design,” and environmental performance. But really, what do these terms mean? Is there a way to subjectively rate how effective these implementations are?
These terms are all new ways of thinking to support new building construction and more while maintaining the health and quality of the environment and the people around it. The answer to the second part of the question is Yes, certifications and awards exist to increase the effectiveness of green building and environmentally sustainable and sound buildings. The certification is called LEED certification, which covers a wide array of components of green building and maintenance.
Architecture is constantly improving and upping its game to make buildings not only more environmentally friendly and sustainable from the ground up, from new materials to installing technology, but also to continue the environmental efforts by installing features like solar panels and specialized plumbing while maintaining standards of green cleaning and a healthy environment.
Everything in the structure of a building can make it more environmentally sound, like the compass direction it faces and how it sits on the land or the roof shape and window style. The LEED approach is important in architecture because a healthy, efficient structure begins with the first design sketches and keeps going long after the building is finished and occupied.
While some people are quite familiar with LEED certification, it is a new concept to others. Understanding the concept is important and this definition from USGBC should help:
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available for virtually all building project types, from new construction to interior fit-outs and operation & maintenance, LEED provides a framework that project teams can apply to create healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement.
By having the LEED concepts in mind and certification as a goal, creators can design buildings that can be environmentally sound, healthy places to enrich our world rather than negatively impact it. A great further explanation of LEED is in the video below:
With LEED certification goals, a new marketplace standard has been set. Buildings are not just areas to work or play in, they are almost living structures to connect people, the Earth, and their personal environments. With rooftop gardens, solar panels, sustainable, friendly temperature regulation and smart technology, buildings now can take on new roles, practically interacting with the humans that fill them.
The design of these buildings takes a village. It’s not just an architect who creates these green concepts. Designers, engineers, landscapers, and others are involved in the construction and design of buildings with this level of environmental awareness. It takes even more to keep those buildings maintained and operating at optimum efficiency.
Operation and Maintenance
Not only are the concept, design, construction, and materials integral to the creation of these buildings, but once they are complete the continued sustainable operation and maintenance of the building and all of its components is vital. It would be a waste to create and build these buildings and not use them to their full potential or to taint them with hazardous and dangerous chemicals. The people who take care of the building are just as important as those who design it.
A good cleaning service, whether office cleaning services or for other types of buildings, will maintain the building in a way that not only provides optimum green cleaning services that keep the building and the people in it safe and healthy but it should also extend to the health of the environment. That includes types of products used, the practices with which they are used, and the safe disposal of them. The bottom line is an increase in healthy, environmentally sound and sustainable products and a decrease in hazardous materials, chemicals and waste.
Cleaning companies can earn LEED certification, and the ones who have it are the ones to look for to use for the care of these buildings. Many cleaning products are used more for their efficiency to get the job done rather than considering the effect the product can have on the health of the people exposed to it. With a green cleaning service, a clean and healthy space is the goal. All aspects of cleaning should be considered here, from bathroom cleaning to floor and carpets. All products should be safe for people and the environment to maintain these high standards of green buildings.
Pest control is another important feature of green cleaning. No one wants bugs and other pests running through their space, but often dangerous chemicals are used in the maintenance of a pest free environment. It’s important to use a service that is conscientious in their use of products to keep a healthy and pest free environment.
Some others aspects and areas to think about with a green building are:
- Heating and air maintenance
- Parking deck maintenance and cleaning
- Carpet and floor cleaning
- Water and energy usage
- Landscape maintenance and operations
A New Way of Life
Those in this field, from engineers to designers to landscapers and material scientists, are earning specialized training to implement the details and strategies to meet these high standards. College students can earn degrees with a focus on green design and architecture and many other aspects of green building and care. And before long, green buildings along with green cleaning and maintenance should be the new normal rather than the innovation of the future.
This is a growing field and an exciting one. Building efficiency is still important as it has been for centuries, but buildings have taken on a new role, that of an extension of the environment and one that brings sustainable and health to the surrounding area and the people that are part of the building. From the landscape design to the plumbing in the bathrooms, all aspects have to be accounted for. With certifications like the LEED standard, those that work on the design and construction of buildings have high but attainable goals.