Real Estate Articles

Components of Leed

Written by Brent Pace for Gaebler Ventures

More and more office spaces are marketed as green spaces. Many are LEED certified. What does that even mean? In this article we explore what it means to be LEED Certified and discuss some of the key components of LEED (v2.2).

Building "green" has become a catch-all phrase that every developer tries to use to market a new project.

One of the main functions of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, administered by the US Green Building Council (USGBC), is to create an organized system to help consumers and lessees understand and quantify a green project. The basic idea of LEED is that a developer will certify certain components of his building with the USGBC and they in turn bestow a level of LEED based on a points system.

There are four different levels of LEED for New Construction: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum with Platinum being the highest level. These levels are reached based on a point system (out of 100 possible points) as follows:

  • Certified: 40-49 points
  • Silver: 50-59 points
  • Gold: 60-79 points
  • Platinum: 80 points and above

If you are looking at leasing a LEED Certified building you should know what some of the components of LEED are, and what your Landlord has done to make the building green. LEED has five basic areas where a building owner can get points toward LEED Certification, they are: Sustainable Site, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, and Indoor Environmental Quality. Let's take a look at a selection of the components of each of these five categories.

Sustainable Site (SS)

  • Do not develop on the following (1 point): prime farmland; within 100 feet of any wetlands; or land identified as habitat for threatened or endangered species
  • Create a development on a previously developed site and in a community with minimum density of 60,000 sq ft per acre (1 point).

Water Efficiency (WE)

  • Use high-efficiency irrigation technology OR use captured rain or recycled site water to reduce potable water consumption for irrigation by 50% over conventional means (1 point).

Energy & Atmosphere (EA)

  • Reduce design energy case compared to the energy cost budget indicated by ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1-2004, using the Building Performance rating method:
    • 10.5% = 1 point
    • 14.0% = 2 points
    • 17.5% = 3 points
    • 21.0% = 4 points etc.
  • Use the on-site renewable energy systems to offset building energy cost. Calculate project performance by expressing the energy produced by the renewable systems as a percentage of the building annual energy cost:
    • 2.5% renewable = 1 point
    • 7.5% renewable = 2 points
    • 12.5% renewable = 3 points

Materials & Resources (MR)

  • Use materials with recycled content such that the sum of the post-consumer recycled content plus one-half of the post industrial content constitutes at least 10% of the value of the materials of the project (1point).
  • 10% manufactured AND harvested or extracted within 500 miles of the project site (1 point).

Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ)

  • Provide lighting controls for 90% of the building occupants and lighting system controllability for all multi-occupant spaces (1 point).
  • Provide individual comfort controls for 50% of FTE and provide comfort system controls for all shared multi-occupant spaces (1 point).

If you are considering leasing a LEED building be sure to ask your Landlord for a list of all the points that the building achieved for LEED Certification. As you can see from the sample of points above, some of them may matter more than others.

Brent Pace is currently an MBA candidate at University of California at Berkeley. Originally from Salt Lake City, Brent's experience is in commercial real estate development and management. Brent will have tips for small business owners as they negotiate their real estate needs.

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