Sunday, February 1, 2009

LEED and the USGBC

First, a little about LEED and the USGBC. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. There's more than one green building rating organization, but the US Green Building Council (USGBC) is the most recognized. Forward-thinking cities across the country are requiring new buildings to Meet LEED standards for building performance. Dallas is one such city requiring LEED performance from new buildings.

Check out the USGBC North Texas Chapter at  to learn more about LEED projects in the Dallas area.

Here is a partial list of Dallas LEED 'registered' buildings. I think this means projects under construction or not yet certified.

Dallas, TX
Azure Tower
City of Dallas Fire Station 40
City of Dallas Northwest Service Center
Dallas Public Library - Lockwood Branch
Dallas Public Library - West Love Field Branch
Dallas South Central Police Station
Hampton/Illinois Branch Library
McCommas ECO Training Center
The da Vinci School Relocation
The Senior Source
Timberglen Branch Library
Walnut Hill Branch Library

The following statements appear on the USGBC website: 

"The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is a voluntary, consensus-based national rating system for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. LEED addresses all building types and emphasizes state-of-the-art strategies in five areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials and resources selection, and indoor environmental quality."

"The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization with a vision of a sustainable built environment within a generation. Its membership includes corporations, builders, universities, government agencies, and other nonprofit organizations. USGBC is dedicated to expanding green building practices and education, and its LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™."

There are a few common misconceptions about USGBC.

People often think that the USGBC is part of the US federal government. It's not, the USGBC is a privately run non-profit that is a positive, independent and objective rating organization for sustainable and high performance buildings. I know I thought the USGBC was a government organization. I guess having US in their name makes them sound official and like part of the government. 

The second common mistake that people unfamiliar with LEED and the USGBC often make is to say that people are LEED certified, they're not certified. Buildings are certified and people are accredited. Just remember that if someone is 'certifiable' that would mean that they're insane and you probably don't want to be working with them. 

The third misconception and perhaps the most important distinction I'll make here, is that having a USBC logo on a product does not mean that product meets any performance standards at all, if a USGBC logo appears on a product it simply means that the manufacturer is a sponsor of the USBC. If you are trying to select a material you should consult an independent third party product rating organization like 

The last mistake people often make is to add an 'S' after LEED and say 'LEEDS', but Leads is a place in the United Kingdom and LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

There are four ratings that buildings can achieve. In order of increasing performance, the ratings are, LEED Standard, LEED Silver, LEED Gold and LEED Platinum. The more points, the higher the building rating. Like any truly 'green' building, the sustainable buildings that are LEED certified are not sustainable simply because they use a wind turbine or solar panels, they are sustainable because they employ a variety of strategies, starting with the selection of the building site. Please see our next post about sustainable sites to read more about this sustainable development in Fair Park.

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