Will "green building" construction become an everyday standard? If so, when? Should you be making changes to your food plant now with this issue in mind? Here are the facts that'll help you decide.
You see references to "building green" everywhere. Cable channel home shows even feature home improvement projects using green building principles. While building green sounds like a good idea, a debate continues in the building community about the costs and benefits of the official green certification, known as LEED.
While anyone is free to construct sustainable, energy-efficient structures without third-party verification, the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program is emerging as the stamp of legitimacy for environmentally responsible construction.
The U.S. Green Building Council is a non-profit organization devoted to shifting the building industry towards sustainability, targeting how buildings are designed, built and operated. USGBC established the first standards for the LEED Green Building rating system in 2000, creating a framework for assessing building performance and meeting sustainability goals. LEED standards are currently available or under development for commercial buildings, homes and neighborhood developments.
The New Construction and Major Renovation LEED Standard v2009 measures buildings for energy use, electricity consumption, water use, waste recycling and use of renewable materials, among other things. Buildings are ranked as the following depending on the number of points awarded:
40 to 49 points
50 to 59 points
60 to 79 points
80 to 110 points
Critics say it's more important to focus on sustainable design rather than getting bogged down with the paperwork necessary to chase LEED points and win certification. Certification itself is sometimes viewed as being as much about marketing as it is about building an environmentally-conscious structure. Furthermore, the LEED rating system was originally developed with large office buildings in mind and not the plethora of other building functions that exist (such as food plants).
Does it really make sense to try for a LEED-rated food plant if you are constructing a new facility, or renovating an existing one? Or is it more reasonable to follow sound green building design principles and not worry about obtaining LEED certification?
First, you need to understand how points are obtained under the U.S. Green Building Councils New Construction and Major Renovation (Version 2009) LEED rating system. We have summarized the point system below for which LEED rankings are obtained.
Our next issue will address some of the ways a food plant can gain points for these categories. You can then decided if green building design is for you, and if a LEED-rated building is a goal worth pursuing.