Launched in 1998, the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification is a sought-after designation for facilities around the world. Both new construction and retrofit projects are eligible for LEED, which offers four certification levels. With more than 80,000 projects affiliated with LEED, it’s worth learning more about these standards to see how they can benefit your operation.
Two Avenues for Achieving LEED
There is a reason LEED is the most widely used system for rating green buildings. This is because there are two different branches of the LEED program, making it relevant for numerous types of projects. LEED for Building Design and Construction (LEED BD+C) provides new construction buildings with a path to certification. LEED BD+C also applies to major renovations of existing buildings. With LEED v4.1, there are 10 credit categories, such as water efficiency, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality.
Meanwhile, LEED for Operations and Maintenance (O+M) enables existing buildings and existing interiors within a portion of a building the chance to take additional steps toward sustainability. Within the aforementioned categories, reducing indoor water use is a prerequisite as is minimum indoor air quality. Then, there are also opportunities to earn points to increase your certification level from Certified to either Silver, Gold or Platinum. For example, implementing green cleaning offers 1-3 points depending on factors like janitorial equipment or cleaning products used.
The Benefits of LEED Certification
There are many business advantages associated with environmental sustainability, and LEED certification gives facilities added credibility in that regard. Pursuing and achieving LEED certification can result in the following:
- Brand reputation – A 2017 Deloitte survey found that 76% of millennials now regard business as a force for positive social impact. Brands that are transparent about their dedication to sustainability not only position themselves favorably among millennials but other generations as well. LEED certification can result in positive press coverage and elevate the perception building visitors and occupants have of your organization.
- Reduced consumption – LEED-certified buildings go a long way in lessening environmental impact by using fewer resources and minimizing waste. The Department of Energy reviewed 22 LEED-certified buildings and reported that, compared to non-LEED buildings, CO2 emissions were 34% lower and the sites consumed 25% less energy and 11% less water.
- Cost savings – The USGBC notes that new construction LEED buildings have reported nearly 20% lower maintenance costs than other commercial buildings, and buildings retrofitted to fulfill LEED requirements typically decrease operational costs by almost 10% after 12 months. With tenants of LEED buildings willing to pay a higher price per square foot, building owners and managers can simultaneously reduce their operating costs and increase rent for maximum profit.
- Happier tenants – According to a 2018 USGBC survey, individuals who work in LEED-certified buildings “are happier, healthier and more productive than employees in conventional and non-LEED buildings.” Improved indoor air quality in LEED buildings can also reduce absenteeism and the impact of asthma and allergies. In turn, health and happiness at work can boost creativity, productivity and collaboration. Additionally, when employees associate positive feelings with their work environment, there is a decreased risk of low morale and employee turnover.
Supporting your Journey to LEED Certification
The more LEED points you earn across the nine categories, the closer you become to achieving Platinum, the highest designation. Your approach to cleaning your facility can have a positive effect on your overall score, as cleaning can enhance indoor air quality, which is measured in the Indoor Environmental Quality category. A focus on sustainable cleaning can also impact the Water Efficiency category and the Innovation category.
Thus, in addition to design features, it’s important to consider all the ways in which your cleaning supplies and processes impact resource consumption and occupant health. Seek out sustainable cleaning chemicals, tools and equipment that will help you reduce waste and properly maintain your building while successfully lessening your environmental impact.
Add sustainable products to your cleaning program to support your LEED certification. Learn more at www.abcoproducts.com or contact us at (888) 694-2226 today.