My ultimate goals are to protect the environment and empower people to achieve their potential. The LEED, green building classification system sets priorities on healthy impacts for environment and humans. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design performing buildings. Picture yourself at work where you have natural lighting, a view of nature, and in control of your own, localized temperature and ventilation system. There are outdoor tables and chairs in a park like atmosphere and a kitchen area that is stocked with healthy food choices. These are a few of amenities that harbor green space and provide for your well-being in LEED certified buildings.

The United States Green Building Council transformed the building market in 1999 with the creation of the LEED industry. The leaders in business are proving to be successful by aligning with this green industry. Greenbiz discovered that Fortune 100 companies in California (100%) and Fortune 100 companies across the country (88%) have LEED in their portfolios. Green features are added to over 25% of United States construction projects ( Buildings are the foundation of a sustainable built environment. Job opportunities are abundant in this work sector for those willing to become educated as an accredited professional.

A LEED building is branded by the total amount of recognized credits to achieve Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum classification. Credits are organized into workable categories; such as water, energy, materials, and indoor environmental quality. There is building prestige for location and its linkage to natural products and services, related businesses, and features to satisfy human comforts. The actual conditions of the site is also placed in its own classification. Efficient use and recycling of resources provides a boost in credits. Engaging the mind in creative endeavors and inspired empowerment offer a benefit in the innovation category. Your team may even find the next “best strategy” offering a life time of credibility and job security. Achieving accreditation results in the retention of high quality tenants and greater resale values.

A rating system prerequisite is to determine the type of building that will be remodeled or constructed. Is it going to be a new or renovated building or school; the development of interior or shell; or perhaps a neighborhood enhancement project? Will the building be used for commercial, retail, or healthcare activities? The building may be an existing structure or developed for the maximum comforts in a home. The major strategy is to design for maximum performance. Choose your need and optimize your strategy.

Cost and benefit ratios are a major concern with any construction or remodel project. It is difficult to outlay the before and after benefits from a newly constructed building. Although, a 19 year old, 11,840 square foot commercial building remodel project yielded a reduction in energy by 75% and water use by 90%. Consider taking your energy or water bill and multiplying the total by .75 or .90 to find your monthly savings. In essence the project will pay for itself within a short period and then you are able to experience low utility payments for a life time. In San Jose, California, 64 energy projects realized a simple payback of 9.5 months with a return on investment of 121%, including rebates and incentives (Retrofitting office buildings to be green and energy efficient, ISBN 978-0-87420-133-8).

The movement is growing to place value on our precious environment and on people. Our precious Mother Earth is expressing volatile environmental conditions through climate changing conditions, unprocessed pollution, and mass extinction. Rates of cancer and other health issues are plaguing the human population. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Development performing buildings are designed to have a small environmental footprint and improve your well-being. An environmental stewardship lifestyle empowers you to be part of the creation of a world that is livable and resilient to 20th century challenges by going green. Jump in and enjoy the sustainable ride.

Elizabeth Armstrong, Ph.D.

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