Have you ever noticed an “ENERGY STAR” placard on the side of a structure or read an article about a new Federal building that had achieve LEED® Gold status and wondered, “What does it all mean?”
You are not alone.
While it may seem like common knowledge to those in the green building industry, many people aren’t clear about the various certification programs used to rate the energy efficiency of newly built and renovated structures.
Here are a few of the leading energy certification programs:
LEED®, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is the star player in terms of building certification. LEED is the green building rating system developed and administered by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED certification involves a process by which an independent, third-party entity certifies that a building, home or community was designed and built using specific approaches aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health. These approaches include sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. Once evaluated, buildings receive one of four levels of certification; LEED Certified, LEED Silver, LEED Gold or the highest level, LEED Platinum. The Green Schoolhouse Series aims to achieve LEED Platinum status on its first build, the Safari Schoolhouse in Phoenix, AZ.
ENERGY STAR® is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. To be ENERGY STAR certified, a building must meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency and must cost less per square foot to operate. The programs philosophy centers around saving money while reducing energy consumption. According to ENERGY STAR, the program saved enough energy in 2010 alone to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 33 million cars — all while saving nearly $18 billion on utility bills.
Green Globes is an environmental assessment, education and rating system backed in the U.S. by the Green Building Initiative (GBI), a Portland, Oregon-based non-profit. The Canadian Federal Government has been using the Green Globes system for several years as the basis for the Building Owners and Manufacturer’s Association of Canada’s Go Green Plus program. Green Globes is designed to offer effective, practical and affordable ways to evaluate the environmental performance and sustainability of commercial buildings.