|Efforts in regulating sustainability began as far back as the early '70s, with the birth of the Natural Resources Defense Council—an organization whose members would partner with the United States Green Building Council in the early 1990s to create the LEED Certification System—today's most respected evaluation of building performance.|
LEED Certification has become an important staple for new and old buildings, the scores varying depending on the building type, who it serves, and how well it performs. LEED covers six categories which attempt to cover every aspect in the construction of a building, from the site itself to its final product. These six categories are Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environment Quality and LEED Innovation Credits. A building can achieve a maximum of 69 points and can receive one of four scores—LEED Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum. LEED also has criteria for existing buildings as well as those undergoing new construction.
LEED was designed to accomplish several things, though the over-arching theme is clear—to promote socially conscious design while lessening the negative environmental impact that comes with most buildings. LEED actually defined the term "green building," developing a set of guidelines which would eventually become the foundation for their six categories of evaluation during the certification process. With a quantifiable definition, "green" can work as a set standard rather than a subjective adjective, forcing designers to work towards a real goal such as energy consumption and proper material use.
According to Green California, our state currently contains thirty-four LEED Certified buildings. New buildings in California which exceed 10,000 square feet must now score Silver from LEED, according to a new code put into effect over a year ago.
Individual designers can also gain LEED Professional Credentials by taking classes offered by the US Green Building Council. Several LEED Credential degrees are offered, many beginning architects choosing to become a LEED Green Associate to better educate themselves about the constraints in which they design. A handful of classes can be taken online, and an exam follows the end of each session.
The LEED Certification system has legitimately raised the standard for building performance. With the recent public awareness of green building, LEED Certification is becoming more important to emerging architecture, and buildings everywhere are being more thoughtfully designed.