By Nancy Powell
Whether it’s work, school, leisure or precious moments with the family, Americans spend a lot of time trapped in interior spaces. The Environmental Protection Agency pegs the rate at 90 percent. Think the walls we live within, the air we breathe, all that matters in the context of our god-given talent for living life in couch-potato mode. Which is why we should embrace LEED.
LEED, shorthand for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, makes our couch-potato lifestyle much more conducive to our health. LEED is an internationally-recognized certification managed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for environmentally-friendly construction that was first introduced in 1998 and refined in 2009.
Newly constructed buildings are rated on a 100-point scale, based on whether each complies with a set of predefined energy, sustainability, water efficiency, materials and resources, as well as indoor air-quality standards. A building earning at least 40 points is considered LEED-certified.
In essence, the more efficiently we use our environment, the safer and more productive our lives become. A 2003 study by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative found that LEED-implementation led to a 20 to 25 percent spike in energy efficiency, increasing productivity as a result of improved ventilation, temperature control, improvements in lighting and a reduction in indoor pollution. Neat stuff considering many of us spend our waking hours slaving under the glare of electronic displays.
A quick visit to www.coloradogreenbusiness.com demonstrates examples of why our local businesses should consider practices that are friendly to Mother Nature. One incentive is a tax break for companies that meet the criteria. Some businesses need only improve their energy efficiency. For example, a company can replace its light bulbs for more efficient models . . . or opt to install solar panels to save money and energy.
Others tax breaks are aimed at particular industries, like farming or mining.
Many of our local universities also support various research projects that aim to help businesses go green.
Last year the Colorado Convention Center was awarded a LEED certification. This award made the Center the largest LEED-certified building in the state and one of the three largest convention facilities to earn this designation in the country.
Creating “greener” pastures takes considerable time, money and dedication. But the bottom line is that the time and money that are saved (not to mention the air we breathe) make LEED certification a worthy endeavor.