Going “green” has become a popular term. It is popular for businesses to save money on energy costs and to be associated with being green, and for consumers who are concerned about energy usage and are motivated to do business with green companies. While there is a residential LEED certification, it is typically designed into commercial buildings. Here we take a dive into what “LEED certification” means.
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Originally implemented here in the U.S. in the 1990s, it has expanded into a worldwide program. It is a ratings system to be used for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of buildings, homes, and even whole neighborhoods and to help business and home owners be more environmentally responsible. LEED standards have been adopted by the U.S. Federal Government and by 46 of the 50 states. The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions not only during the building process but also during the building’s lifetime and to use the energy required to maintain the building more effectively.
Points are awarded toward achieving an overall number that signifies the overall energy reduction from a baseline. That energy reduction is mostly achieved in making the building easier to heat, cool and light. Mostly, but not entirely. Relatively small things like siting a building near mass transit as well as installing bike racks (!) can contribute.
Incentives and Famous Buildings
Incentives are offered by various governmental entities to attain LEED certifications. Some states and municipalities use tax breaks while others require all new public buildings to be constructed so as to attain LEED certification. Credits offered to a building project can help make the project more economically feasible. Lower costs to operate usually helps the property stand out amongst its neighbors and increases the resale value.
Some famous buildings around the country that are LEED certified range from the Empire State Building in New York, Soldier Field in Chicago, Nationals Park in Washington DC, and Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. Libraries, greenhouses, botanical gardens, industrial complexes, multimedia companies, and countless office buildings have been built from the ground up to meet LEED criteria.
So what does reclaimed wood flooring have to do with this? The trees had already been logged and transported out of the forest; no more energy need be expended for that. Recycling and repurposing it keeps it out of a landfill. Giving it a new life as a beautiful hardwood floor ices the cake. Because of the overall energy savings/benefit to the environment, the use of reclaimed wood flooring contributes to the LEED Material Reuse credit. One cannot see the building’s uber-efficient HVAC, so in most cases the reclaimed wood floor is the most noticeable sign that a space has been greened. A win for the building owner, the user and for the environment!