Whether you are a building owner/operator, developer, architect or in any way involved in the development and construction of new buildings or operation and maintenance of existing buildings, you have heard plenty over the last few years about sustainable development, green buildings and environmentally friendly construction, design and operations practices. The U.S. Green Building Council has developed a green building certification system more commonly known as LEED, which is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Navigating the process of obtaining LEED certification for a new construction project or an existing building can be a daunting prospect, but there are a few things as simple as routine replacement of interior finishes with green products that are cost effective and will help you to get on the path to LEED certification:
- When repainting walls and ceilings, look for paint and coatings with low volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. Major manufacturers such as Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore have paints and coatings with special labeling that ensures that these coatings have been tested and exceed industry standards for materials and VOC emissions and are guaranteed to meet LEED requirements for earning credits in this category. Benjamin Moore products meeting this requirement carry the Green Promise label while Sherwin Williams products carry the GreenSure label. The use of these types of low VOC emission paints and coatings will improve the indoor air quality of your facility as well as earn you LEED credits.
- In addition to selecting low VOC paints and coatings, look for products that are light in color and high in light reflectance that will help lessen the required energy usage by reducing electrical lighting requirements in particular spaces. Also, look for products that can be cleaned and maintained with environmentally friendly green cleaning products, which is another practice that will earn you LEED credits toward certification.
- When replacing carpet, look for carpet that carries the Green Label Plus designation from the Carpet & Rug Institute. This will ensure that the carpet, cushion and adhesives you are installing are manufactured to ensure the lowest possible emission of VOCs. This will also earn you LEED credits toward certification.
These are just a couple of easy steps you can take to begin the process of making your building more environmentally friendly and could lead, along with other initiatives that we will cover in future articles relating to roofing, irrigation systems, lighting and plumbing fixtures, to obtaining certification for your building under the LEED – EBOM V3.0 2009 program, by the U.S. Green Building Council. zumBrunnen would be happy to talk with you about this program and offer a comprehensive service where we visit your facility and provide you with a Scorecard Forecast Report that outlines the feasibility of this LEED certification for existing buildings.
Doug McMillan, P.E., LEED AP