Examining LEED: Energy efficient buildings and homes

July 24, 2012

The idea of energy efficient buildings is not one that has been around for a significant period, but the rapid acceptance of the technologies associated with limiting energy costs and consumption has led to a green revolution in real estate.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications not only signify that a structure was built and operates in an efficient manner, but these labels also help to increase the value of a property. Because of these dual benefits, the system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has led to a change within the American real estate sector.

According to a USGBC release, LEED is a private, voluntary, transparent and democratic system for buildings in the U.S., and it will be helped by the recent creation of the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition. This agency was established by the American Chemistry Council and could greatly impact the use of green and sustainable technologies in commercial structures.

The two agencies will work together to increase the use of energy efficient products and technologies in buildings, lowering the overall energy consumption levels for commercial structures in the U.S., which currently account for 40 percent of the total energy use.

"Like the newly formed coalition, USGBC also supports the use of green building codes and standards, in addition to third party rating systems like LEED, and has proudly worked with leading code development organizations to co-release the leading mandatory green building codes," said Roger Platt, senior vice president of Global Policy and Law at USGBC.

Other government agencies have played a role in the adoption of more green buildings, as the Department of Energy sponsored an innovation Hub to deal directly with motivating progress in the sector.

The Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) is an effort that is headquartered in Philadelphia, and is looking to transform the city's commercial real estate sector. By making retrofits and energy efficient upgrades more attractive investments, the initiative hopes to initiate a significant change.

These changes can start with lighting systems or energy management systems for buildings, according to IT Web.

"The principal role of a building energy management system is to regulate and monitor heating, ventilation and air conditioning – and often lighting, too," Graham Greene, a business solutions manager for Dimension Data, told the news outlet. "By applying a range of control and monitoring routines – both simple and sophisticated – it is capable of operating the building services in strict accordance with demand, thereby avoiding unnecessary use of energy."