Innovative Strategies for LEED Certification in Green Building

As construction firms embrace sustainable practices to deliver healthier and more energy and resource efficient projects, they can leverage new strategies to achieve LEED certification.
By Ruben Mejia
August 5, 2020

The trend toward sustainable construction is changing the way projects are designed and built. The demand for green buildings continues to rise driven by increasing concerns over global warming, tighter environmental regulations and a growing focus on occupant health. In response to this demand, the construction sector is embracing green practices including delivering LEED-certified commercial projects.

LEED, a third-party certification program sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council, has verified the sustainability of thousands of buildings. Last year the program announced it had surpassed 100,000 registered and certified global LEED commercial projects and noted that the organization certifies more than 2.6 million square feet of space each day. And, according to data from Statista, the number of LEED registrations has steadily increased since the certification program’s implementation in 1993 with registrations in the United States alone reaching approximately 69,066 in 2019.

LEED certification considers a variety of metrics such as CO2 emissions reduction, energy savings, water efficiency, indoor environmental quality, use of natural resources, and environmental impact. The program provides a roadmap to help developers, architects, and construction companies evaluate the many components of sustainable, healthy buildings.

LEED v4.1, released in 2018, is the latest iteration of the rating system. As construction firms embrace sustainable practices to deliver healthier and more energy and resource efficient projects, some of the strategies they can leverage to achieve LEED certification include the following.

Focusing on indoor environmental quality

Plan for quality views including consideration of building orientation, site design, façade materials, window placement and interior layout. Connecting occupants to the natural environment can decrease stress and increase occupant satisfaction.

Considering location

Take into consideration the location of the project and how it can be developed near multimodal transportation options.

Promoting green vehicles

Encourage alternative fuel vehicles that help reduce pollution. This can include preferred parking for green vehicles, discounted parking for green vehicles, providing electric vehicle charging stations or alternative fuel fueling facilities/battery switching stations.

Creating sustainable sites

Provide physical accessible outdoor space with vegetation and design the project in a way that encourages interaction with the environment, other people and physical activity.

Promoting occupant health

Active design strategies should be aimed at improving the health of building users while reducing environmental impacts. This credit includes strategies such as providing fitness opportunities and exercise spaces in a project. USGBC requirements in this area include providing “a dedicated or multi-use space to act as an on-site exercise room, which includes a variety of exercise equipment, for use by at least 5% of FTE occupants.”

Innovations such as green fitness technology designed to convert electricity during a workout into utility grade electricity can be integrated into buildings. This technology offsets the facility’s power consumption and reduces its carbon footprint, helping design for active occupants and meet other LEED requirements for energy savings.

As the design and construction sector continue the drive toward reducing the industry’s environmental impact, implementing LEED certification strategies will not only yield environmental benefits but financial gains will accrue as well. According to the World Green Building Council, the business benefits of the shift towards more sustainable products and practices “include 8% operating cost savings in the first year and increased building asset values of 7%”

More and more designers and builders are embracing green building practices. As part of these initiatives they are implementing strategies for LEED certification to help guide them in designing and delivering projects that maintain high standards for healthier, more sustainable buildings.

by Ruben Mejia
Ruben Mejia, Executive Vice President for SportsArt Americas, has five years of experience in the fitness industry, previously holding the title of Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at SportsArt. Prior to his work at the company, Mejia held leadership roles within the technology and ecommerce spaces.

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