I finally got around to taking (and passing) the LEED exam this past Friday. For those who don’t know, this exam is sponsored by the US Green Building Council and is to help facilitate LEED-certified buildings in the USA. According to their website, "The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings." The standards lead to various levels of building certification by obtaining credits, with a Platinum building being the highest. Obviously the system is not perfect and is limited to the USA, but it is fairly comprehensive in what it strives for. There are six main categories that need to be tracked for all projects.
- Site sustainability – choosing appropriate sites to develop and encouraging alternative transportation.
- Water efficiency – reducing water use through better fixtures, reducing potable water use both in buildings and landscaping.
- Energy and Atmosphere – optimizing energy performance of buildings and incorporating on-site renewable energy.
- Materials and Resources – diverting construction waste from landfills, reusing materials and structure of existing buildings, using regional, recycled, and rapidly renewable materials.
- Indoor Environmental Quality – utilizing appropriate ventilation, use of low emitting materials, control of lighting and thermal comfort, and maximizing daylight and views into spaces.
- Innovation in Design – encouraging innovation to come up with new strategies for sustainability.
According to this link provided by latter-day sustainablist, the Church is looking at the feasibility of LEED-certifying their meetinghouses. The company, Ambient Energy, based in Colorado, used a typical LDS chapel and provided "energy modeling to support using LEED on all of the LDS future meeting houses." To my knowledge, there has not, as yet, been any LEED-certified buildings done by the Church, so this is good news. I can only hope they move forward with this.
On a similar note, the new City Creek Center development in downtown Salt Lake that is being funded by the LDS Church is considering LEED. Back in 2005, the Deseret News reported on this possibility in the article, Salt Lake mall project may go 'green'. All I have recently been able to find is in the FAQ of the City Creek website, where the question is asked, "Will the project be LEED Certified?" They responded that they "will follow LEED principles in design, construction and operation of the project. However, no decision has been made on applying for LEED certification."
My response to this is why wouldn't they seek certification? Remember that just to be certified is the lowest possible rating for LEED, having to achieve only 26 of the 69 credits possible. Upwards from this is 33 credits for Silver, 39 for Gold, and 52 for Platinum. So to not even be committed to a simple certification is disappointing, especially two years into such an enormous project. Following LEED principles on the project, as is stated that they are doing, would easily get them a certification or higher.