LEED certificates prove that smart buildings can and must be both environmentally friendly and economical.
Smart, in the context of buildings, means using energy and resources efficiently and integrating automation technology to maximize user comfort and building functionality. Essentially, smart buildings are made to provide enjoyable, green and high-tech environments that enable users to live and work more productively.
Over the past years, building design competitions have rewarded futuristic concepts that defy gravity and structural limitations. However, there is also a growing trend of using innovative technology to address environmental concerns. One voluntary certification organization is leading the way in sustainable design.
LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) is an independent green building organization that certifies best-in-class building practices. LEED-certified buildings prove that ‘environmental’ and ‘economical’ are not mutually exclusive characteristics. The LEED green building certification system was introduced in 2000 by the U.S. Green Building Council, to recognize outstanding projects and encourage green practices. The market demand for green buildings is on the rise, and LEED can provide property owners with visible proof of their efforts, thereby increasing the prestige of their buildings. LEED, in practice, means implementing green building technologies such as solar panels, heat-absorbing and releasing walls, energy-generating elevators, retractable roofs used for regulating temperature and so on.
While LEED is a major step forward in green building, there are other initiatives that go even further. The Living Building Challenge, for example, is a building certification program and advocacy tool that defines the most advanced measure of sustainability possible today. One of the requirements is “net zero energy” or better. Net zero energy does not imply that the building is completely detached from the grid. Instead, net zero energy buildings use resources very efficiently and produce more clean energy than they take in.
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