More sustainable building designs are becoming commonplace in development today. From renovations that bring an aging structure into the modern era to brand new construction that exceeds environmental standards, the focus on sustainability has many benefits.
Within the sustainability conversation, there are many terms and labels floating around: National Green Building Standard, Energy Star, Green Globes and WELL Building Standard, just to name a few. Perhaps the best known and the most widely used is the LEED certification, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) created LEED in 1994 to encourage sustainable practices in design and development using tools and criteria for performance measurement. A wide range of building types, including offices, retail, residences and schools, can qualify for a LEED certification for either new construction or major renovations.
To earn LEED certification, buildings are assessed on a ratings system across seven areas of concentration: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, Innovation in Design Process and Regional Priority.
Based on a building’s performance in those categories it can earn one of four LEED rating levels: Certificate, Silver, Gold or Platinum.
Seeking a LEED certification is voluntary, but it signals to customers, local governments, residents, tenants and other stakeholders that your building achieved important environmental goals set by the USGBC. The minimum requirements for LEED Certification include:
- Complying with environmental regulations and standards
- Meeting the threshold of floor area requirements and minimum building occupancy in terms of number of users
- Maintaining a reasonable site boundary
- Being a permanent building
- Sharing energy and water usage data
- Having a minimum building-to-site area ratio
Qualifying for a LEED certification is a time-intensive investment that should be part of the initial planning phase. Developers must register their project, then collect information and documents based on the type of certification they’re seeking. The completed application is submitted to Green Business Certification Inc. who reviews the project’s attributes and ultimately decides if the building meets the requirements and what rating the building achieves.
As of December 2020, 47 percent of the buildings in Grubb Properties’ portfolio have some kind of green certification, and we’re thrilled that The Gwendolyn is our latest project to receive a LEED certification. This office building was intentionally designed to earn this coveted designation with site features including water and energy efficiency, improved indoor environments and sustainable materials. While LEED for new construction only assesses a building during its construction phase, we also implemented features into The Gwendolyn like an enhanced HVAC system, electric vehicle charging stations and energy-efficient lighting to minimize the building’s long-term environmental footprint.
Grubb Properties is committed to green-building practices that are good for people, the community and the environment, and to further our impact we’ve aligned our Environmental, Social and Governance initiatives with the UN Sustainable Development Goals Framework. We approach every project as an opportunity to improve and lessen our environmental impact, and we seek out ways to enable our tenants and residents to join us in elevating this effort.