By James Stevenson, Urban Sustainability Educator, Pinellas County Extension
The acronym LEED keeps popping up in the newspaper. In fact, LOTS of acronyms keep popping up in the newspaper. Our glossary can help translate what they stand for. Meanwhile, with several development and re-development projects being discussed locally, LEED might do with a closer look. What follows is a conversation between me and my other personality, exploring this. We hope it helps:
Colin: LEED, what is it?
James: Well, it stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and it has to do with the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. LEED certified buildings have been put through an evaluation system as outlined by the United States Green Building Council (also known as USGBC, but that’s another blog!). This gives a renter or buyer some sort of yardstick to measure the “greenness” of a home or apartment. This is also very useful for the building industry, as a frame of reference in building or RE-building green. There is also a Florida branch called, fittingly, the Florida Green Building Coalition. This group helps Florida builders navigate through the greening process.
C: How does it work?
J: According to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), North America’s buildings cause the annual release of more than 2,200 megatons of CO2 into the atmosphere, about 35 percent of the continent’s total. LEED buildings – which take into account the site, water, energy, resources, and indoor environmental quality – reduce CO2 production by 30%-40%.
C: Isn’t green construction more expensive?
J: According to a study conducted by the CA Sustainable Building Task Force, green buildings typically cost 2% more initially, but you’ll recoup 20% of building costs over 20 years, thanks to lower utility bills.
C: What about existing homes?
J: The USGBC has an excellent Green Home Guide with loads of tips and resources. There is a handy checklist to help home-occupiers rate the greenness of their humble abode.
C: Thank you very much for the information.
J: Just doing my job. Now leave me alone and let me get back to work.