Why Have Alternatives to LEED Green Building Certification?

It’s no secret that creating an energy efficient building is a desirable goal. Building green saves on energy and waste costs, and limits the negative impact on the environment.

Ever since this model of sustainability has grown popular, there have been companies standing by to certify buildings and businesses as sustainable. Getting a green building seal of approval for buildings and businesses today is more important than ever.

Decision makingLEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification stands out as the most prominent and powerful among them. But at a typical cost of many tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands or millions, of dollars, is it truly worth the cost to receive this certification? Let’s look at the benefits of alternatives to LEED certification.

LEED is controlled by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). Despite the moniker, this council has no affiliation with the government. Most of their 13,000 members are builders, architects and suppliers for building materials and equipment, many of whom profit from projects mandated by the USGBC.

There are some obvious flaws in this system. This kind of monopoly can be detrimental to any industry. The fact that the founder and president of USGBC makes more than $500,000 a year by running this “non-profit” organization contributes to some questioning their motives. In reaction to the cost, if not for other reasons, many municipalities around the country are now forgoing their bids for LEED certification entirely.

In this economy, shaving what could be $80,000 off the cost of a project involving new sustainable buildings seems too logical for many municipalities to turn down. Inspection and document production, as well as review and verification, take up a lot of time and work energy. After a lengthy, expensive process to receive certification, sticking a plaque on the wall just doesn’t seem worth the time and the tens of thousands of dollars spent.

Thankfully, more options for receiving credit for sustainable buildings are now available. Some companies offer varying levels of certification that won’t break the bank or waste the company’s time. A variety of forward-thinking companies have started programs with the goal of giving credit where credit is due in the green building market.

Instead of paying tens of thousands of dollars on third-party inspections, companies are choosing to use these newer programs to cut energy and waste costs, and to engage their staff and the public in what they’re doing. Some programs, such as Class-G, offer online sustainability certification and an overall sustainability score to help clients analyze their own green building methods – allowing companies to benchmark, track and compare their various locations with an eye to reducing their overall waste. With these kinds of options available, the herculean task of achieving LEED certification, while still an admiral goal, is becoming less and less necessary.

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