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USGBC is a non-profit private organization aimed to promote sustainability in how buildings are designed, built, and operated. USGBC is best known for the development of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), green building rating systems and Greenbuild, a green building conference and expo that promotes the green building industry, including environmentally responsible materials, sustainable architecture techniques and public policy. USGBC advocates for buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy to live and work. USGBC also offers to educate the public and other professionals in the building and construction industry through workshops and Web-based seminars.
Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design(LEED) LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, which makes sure that a building or community was designed and built using strategies intended to improve performance in such areas as energy savings, water efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. LEED's mission in a wider view is to recognize environmental leadership in the building industry, encourage interest in building companies and the use of 'green material' to bring about friendly competition, increase consumer awareness of green building benefit and hence overall change and improve the building marketLEED consists of a suite of nine rating systems for the design, construction and operation of buildings, homes and neighborhoods consists of:
Green Building Design & Construction
i) LEED for New Construction and Major Renovations ii) LEED for Core & Shell Development iii) LEED for Schools iv) LEED for Retail New Construction (planned 2010)
Green Interior Design & Construction
v) LEED for Commercial Interiors vi) LEED for Retail Interiors (planned 2010)
Green Building Operations & Maintenance
vii) LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance
Green Neighborhood Development
viii) LEED for Neighborhood Development
Green Home Design and Construction
ix) LEED for Homes
This is obtained after submitting an application documenting compliance with the requirements of the rating system as well as paying registration and certification fees. Certification is granted solely by the Green Building Certification Institute responsible for the third party verification of project compliance with LEED requirements. Buildings can qualify for four levels of certification:
Certified - 40 - 49 points
Silver - 50 - 59 points
Gold - 60 - 79 points
Platinum - 80 points and above
The knowledge of the LEED rating system is enabled through exams by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) which was established by USGBC. This is recognized through either the LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) or LEED Green Associate (LEED GA) designation.
LEED Professional Credentials
The LEED Professional Credentials were developed to encourage green building professionals to maintain and advance their knowledge and expertise. A LEED Professional Credential provides employers, policymakers, and other stakeholders with assurances of an individual's current level of competence and is the mark of the most qualified, educated, and influential green building professionals in the marketplace. There are three categories in the LEED Professional Credentialing program:
LEED Green Associate
LEED AP (with specialty)
i) LEED Green Associate
This is required in order to gain basic knowledge of green design, construction, and operations. One is eligible for this by involvement on a LEED-registered project, employment (or previous employment) in a sustainable field of work or engagement in (or completion of) an education program that addresses green building principles. Interested parties are also required to agree to the Disciplinary and Exam Appeals Policy and Credential Maintenance Program and submit to an application audit.
The LEED Green Associate exam consists of 100 randomly delivered questions which must be completed in 2 hours.
ii) LEED AP
In the LEED AP an individual gets an advanced depth of knowledge in green building practices and will critically review the ability to specialize in a particular LEED Rating System. The LEED AP exam is divided into two parts. The first part is the LEED Green Associate exam, which demonstrates general knowledge of green building practices. The second part is a specialty exam based on one of the LEED Reference Guides.
To be eligible for the LEED AP exams one needs to have documented professional experience on a LEED project, within the last 3 years, with valid verification. Candidates are also required to agree to the Disciplinary and Exam Appeals Policy and Credential Maintenance Program and submit to an application audit.
The LEED AP exams consist of two parts, the LEED Green Associate exam and the applicable LEED AP specialty exam; each part contains 100 randomly delivered multiple choice questions and each part must be completed in 2 hours. Unlike the LEED Green Associate which focuses on concepts and terminology, the LEED AP exam tests a candidate's in-depth analysis of the five main rating system categories.
iii) LEED Fellow
This is of a higher level than the LEED Accredited Professional. The application process is currently under development. Candidates in this level will contribute to the standards of practice and body of knowledge for achieving continuous improvement in the green building field.
Why is a Certified LEED Designer?
A certified LEED designer benefits professionally in terms of having the skills and the expertise to implement cutting-edge construction techniques which provide consumers with ways to save energy in the long run and hence waste savings. Moreover projects that have the element of LEED standards in the mix are an advantage to such companies with individuals in such standards which may make such companies be up for grants, low-interest loans and even tax exemptions. Such individuals are therefore a huge catch for an organization and to the individuals themselves.
Buildings that have achieved very high LEED ratings or levels of certification include The Bronx Library, the Getty Centre, the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas Radio Shark Corporate headquarters in Texas, Unicore Allen more building, Washington Veterans Home and Madison Tower in Washington, and Jasper Avenue Professional Building in California.
All buildings built in the United States, aside form the cited examples above will have to meet some if not all of LEED requirements as soon as possible since buildings in the U.S account for 72% electricity use and 39% overall in terms of energy. This will significantly help in the water and air quality and reduce wastage, which in the long run will help to conserve the ecosystem. Moreover this has been reemphasized by President Obama when the USGBC announced his plan to upgrade offices, stores, hospitals, universities and schools by making America's commercial buildings more energy- and resource-efficient over the next decade on February 3rd, 2011.
How a designer can earn points in LEED ratings
A designer can earn points in LEED ratings by designing buildings within walking distance to public transportation, which earns structure points towards LEED certification. This is taken into light by reducing the use and purchase of private transportation and hence reduces wastage of fuel and maximizes already available resource. Buildings can also install bike racks and changing rooms with showers to encourage people to bike to work instead of using vehicles. Designers can also earn points by providing recycling options to buildings through specific containers that highlight specific materials to be recycled. Designers can also make use of building materials such as renewable plant materials like bamboo.
Constructing an ecogreen and sustainable building is hampered mainly due to the cost of putting up such buildings. However as a designer, the long term benefits do come into place in terms of improving and maintaining a healthy environment for future generations. Many business-minded individuals do disregard this and think only in terms of now and not in the future when they may no longer exist, so an ecofriendly and sustainable building will work for them by arguing it out that it will reduce renovation costs(long lasting raw materials and skilled building methods) and production costs(use of recyclable end products from the raw materials) and an increased customer base from the ecofriendly population .moreover the employees will also get good working conditions as part of the LEED construction guidelines from proper indoor ventilation and heating, which will make the employees feel highly appreciated and hence motivate their efforts towards making the company highly successful.