Green Building 101: LEED Simplified

Understanding green buildings is simple, as one builds, designs, develops, renovates,… one has to keep 3 simple in mind:  

1. Interior Environments  
2. Ecological Environments  
3. Material Use

Understanding what are the implication of the 3 ideas, how to achieve these goals and how they are all connected is important.  LEED credit sections address all these ideas across the all credits.  LEED breaks down these ideas in credits and helps the users address them in detail and find documented ways to achieve them.  Here are the 3 ideas in a more defined mode:

1.      Interior Environments – When thinking about interiors consider the users of the space and the environmental impacts of everything you are doing to make that a healthy one for the users.   This would include:
  •  Air quality – ventilation and  toxic material that may be released in the air
  • Natural lighting – visibility to the outside, day lighting
  •  Temperature – Creating an environment with temperature that is stable and suitable to the human body (not too hot or too cold)
  •  Material reuse – includes, recycling and trying to keep items out of landfills on all levels
Information on how to try to achieve these environmentally safe and healthy interiors would be in these LEED sections:
  •   Energy & Atmosphere
  •  Material & Resources
  • Indoor Environment Quality

2.      Ecological Environment – When thinking about building, renovating, designing… one needs to consider the implications on the natural environment and all living things.  This would include:
  •   Rebuild the eco systems for other living things
  •    Remove toxins from the environment for the health of humans and other living things
  •    Reduce the use of natural resources that destroy other living things homes, this includes water
  •     Reduce the impact of our needs on other living things
Information on how to try to achieve these ecologically sound environments would be in these LEED sections:
  •    Energy & Atmosphere
  •  Material & Resources
  •   Sustainable Sites
  •    Water Efficiency

3.      Material Use – When thinking of materials, one needs to think about all materials being used.  Make sure all materials used are environmentally friendly and toxin free. One needs to think of how materials are manufactured and what will happen to them after their use is done; the term “Cradle to Cradle” is being used in the industry.  This would be thinking about all materials from production to the grave. This would include:

  •   All exterior building materials
  •  All interior building materials
  • All materials used on building site
Information on how and where to use environmentally sound materials would be in these LEED sections:
  •   Energy & Atmosphere
  •  Material & Resources
  •  Sustainable Sites
  • Water Efficiency
  • Indoor Environment Quality
LEED reference guides and sections help answer the questions of the what and the how for these 3 ideas.  Each LEED Section is broken down to:
  •          Prerequisites - have to do’s
  •          Credits – areas of green buildings / environments one is looking into
  •          Intent – what one wants to have happen
  •          Requirements – what one  needs to follow by law and code for it to happen
  •          Potential Technologies and Strategies - what could be done to achieve this
  •          Submittals – What one would need for a LEED project in this section
  •          Supportive Section – This area has terms, definitions, calculations, decision makers and more
Understanding how to use these sections as a tool and how they all relate to the 3 main ideas is important to understanding green building and communities.  LEED Green Associates have an understanding of how the LEED sections relate to the Interior environments, Ecological environments and Material use.  LEED AP with a specialty understands how to implement these sections for their area of expertise.

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