You’ve probably heard of LEED certification, but what does the term mean for developers?
If you’re familiar with sustainable development at all, you’ve probably heard the term “LEED certification” tossed around quite a few times — but what does it mean? As a leader in sustainable urban development, Green Street St. Louis has been awarded countless LEED honors for our projects across the urban core. Here, we break down the nuts and bolts of this certification process.
What is LEED Certification?
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Currently, this third-party system of rating green building practices, overseen by the U.S. Green Building Council, is the most widely used in the world. It certifies about 1.85 million square feet each day, from private residences to office buildings, from the first stages of construction to completion. Developments can earn LEED certification points based on how they address several different sustainability issues, and are awarded one of four rating levels — certified, silver, gold or platinum.
The Rating System
LEED certification is based on nine different factors — sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy, materials used, indoor environmental quality, location, sustainable awareness, innovation and regional priority. The more standards a building meets, the more points it earns, and therefore the higher its rating will be; those earning 40-49 points are rated as certified, 50-59 points are silver, 60-79 are gold, and 80 or more are platinum.
The Evolution of LEED
The LEED certification process is continuously evolving, as the Green Building Council creates better and more telling ways to measure a building’s green ranking. Currently, the Council is using the fourth iteration of the rating process. This updated version focuses on building materials and their effects on human health and the environment; indoor environmental quality and how it relates to total occupant comfort; total water usage throughout the entire building; and participation in demand response programs.
In addition, the new version of LEED allows more flexibility for various kinds of developments, so as to fit every project’s unique needs, from hotels to warehouses and beyond. What’s more, the LEED credit submittal requirements are now available online in a simplified manner, to better assist those seeking certification.
As LEED becomes more prominent within the development world, it has drawn more attention to all the benefits LEED certification offers, beyond sustainability. From fostering better working environments for employees to creating cost-saving measures down the road for operators, certification is well worth the efforts taken during the initial planning and building stages.
Green Street’s LEED Accomplishments
Every year, the highest-rated LEED-certified buildings in St. Louis are announced by the St. Louis Business Journal, and for this year’s list, Green Street’s projects were rated among the top green developments in the city. The recognition included Chouteau’s Crossing, which is the most sustainably constructed building in St. Louis, ranking higher than platinum within the LEED rating system. The 96,000-square-foot structure features high-efficiency foam wall panels, wind turbines, and solar panels that create 15% of the site’s needed energy, alongside sunshades, skylights, and green roof panels planted with grass and gardens.
However, Green Street doesn’t just set out to create the most sustainable developments in St. Louis; we also want to create the most original, which is why we developed Urban Chestnut Brewing Company, Missouri’s first LEED-certified brewery. The beautiful space features glass windows and natural light in the beer and fermentation halls, a solar panel array, easy public transportation access, bike storage, and numerous energy saving features.