How Older Commercial Businesses Can Go Green With LEED
When a new commercial building is built, we expect it to have a variety of environmentally friendly features in place. In new construction homes, we expect the latest technology to save water and energy too.
But the vast majority of Atlanta’s home and work space is not new. The new is built around an infrastructure that has been in place for decades. How can they catch up? What can they do to make their space more appealing and help the environment at the same time?
That’s where the LEED program can come in.
LEED stands for Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design, a rating system created by the US Green Building Council. While most of the steps focus in on how new construction can be greener, it does have a LEED program to make existing buildings more environmentally friendly too.
The first step in the LEED process is to have an energy audit performed, to determine how efficient a building’s mechanics, machinery, and heating and cooling elements work and what it would take to make them more efficient. LEED bases the approval on US EPA data, where a building has to achieve a certain score in order to qualify for ranking. It’s a four-tiered credit based system that awards points for different levels of sustainability.
There are many ways for a building to earn points. Most of the subject areas have minimum water-efficiency standards. But other areas have optional ways to earn points. For instance, a building can take advantage of installing new technology, such as installing solar panels or purchasing solar-power credits. Or they can create a policy where they use green contractors to help them with their business practices.
Getting LEED certified is not a step-by-step, cookie cutter method. It will be different for every property that moves down the path. Paying a LEED-certified consultant isn’t required, but it is helpful to talk with people knowledgeable about green certification and how to improve efficiencies and sustainability. In some cases, it may even earn you a point.
Overall, it will require you to work on many different projects throughout the building, and take in a variety of different factors: size, condition, type of heating and cooling systems, function, dedication of staff and occupants. While the cost of each project may spike expenses for the year, the changes made under LEED will make the building more energy-efficient, and may provide a return on investment in just a few months.
How could your commercial property benefit from becoming more energy efficient and LEED certified?