We just received LEED Gold certification! Well, the complex where our office is located, a 17-floor building with nearly 700,000 square feet operated by Brookfield Office Properties. LEED certification, which stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a designation from the U.S. Green Building Council awarded to energy-efficient projects in the categories of Building Design and Construction, Interior Design and Construction, Operations and Maintenance, Neighborhood Development, and Homes. The goal of the certification program is to recognize sustainable and innovative facilities and strategies.
LEED certified buildings help conserve energy, using about 30 percent less than the national average, and reduce water consumption. In addition, these buildings help to save money, improve indoor air quality, and better promote the use of more sustainable and more effective building materials. With more than 44,000 LEED projects in North America, and others throughout the world, the reach and impact of LEED is substantial.
To achieve LEED certification, the manager of a project (e.g., building design, neighborhood design, or management of an existing building) registers their project and completes an application that is then reviewed by the Green Building Certification Institute. The application includes a thorough rating system. The credits earned through the rating system—divided into Location and Transportation, Materials and Resources, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Sustainable Sites, Indoor Environmental Quality, Innovation, Regional Priority Credits (categories vary slightly depending on whether the project is a new build or existing building)—determine the level of certification. The credits are earned for compliance with sustainable prerequisites like the following:
- Alternative transportation
- Rainwater management
- Light pollution reduction
- Parameters of microbes, corrosion, and scale in the water system
- Renewable energy and carbon offsets
- Green cleaning policy
- Waste management
LEED Gold, second to only Platinum certification, requires 60–79 points; base-level certification requires 40–49 points and Silver certification requires 50–59 points. LEED credentials are also available for professionals who work in the green buildings field.
Here at Nexight, we’re proud to have office space in a building that emphasizes energy efficiency and environmental friendliness. We also recognize that maintaining LEED certification in an office complex of our size is dependent on the building tenants. That’s why we have joined the building Green Team, which meets quarterly to discuss ways to improve building sustainability through new initiatives, as well as tenant education. At Nexight, we have taken on some office-wide initiatives of our own, including:
- Setting a depository for dead batteries, which are then brought to the Shady Grove Transfer Station by one of our employees
- Increasing the number of plants around the office
- Familiarizing people with composting (which is also taken to an employee’s home) to reduce our office’s waste
- Purchasing reusable Starbucks mugs
- Changing default printer settings to 2-sided and fast print
- Creating a scrap paper bin for paper that only has printing on one side
While these are relatively painless steps that we have taken, we are also exploring larger efforts that we can do as a building to reduce our carbon footprint and be more energy efficient. Perhaps the LEED Platinum designation is in our building’s future. In the meantime, every little bit helps.