LEED Certification for ESCs
Getting With the ProgramNovember 2011 By Martha Brooke
Electricity has been a standard feature in the American home for 80 years. It's almost hard to believe that it was once a sellable feature. The same goes for seatbelts. A standard feature in the American car for almost 50 years, those too were once an upgrade. Items that were once a "luxury" become a standard pretty quickly when they make sense. And once they do, their marketability as a distinguishing feature is gone. You will never see a car manufacturer advertising the fact that their latest model has seatbelts. Of course it does. They all do.
Like electricity and seatbelts, the marketability of a company being "green" is only going to be an option for a limited period of time. Being "green" makes sense and in the not-so-distant future it will be as common as electricity in the home. For electronic systems contractors (ESC), it is important to jump on this opportunity to distinguish youself now, and you can do this by obtaining certification in the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program and following its mandates. For some people, the designation is important to them because they think it makes them an expert, helps them sell more, gives them credibility, is marketable, or unique. And they are right. However, what is not measured cannot be proven. Today, LEED is the most recognized green certification system. For ESCs, LEED certification is proof that they can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.
In order for the custom installation industry to be taken seriously when we are talking about "green" or energy efficiency, ESCs must prove to consumers-their trusting customers—that they are the experts who will lead the way. That proof comes in the form of nationally recognized certification from organizations like the USGBC (United States Green Building Council), who administers the LEED program.
What is LEED?
The first step to LEED certification is having an understanding of what it actually is. According to the USGBC, "LEED provides building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions." Basically, it is a certification system for green-building practices.
Buildings achieve certification through points earned in a number of categories. These include neighborhood development; retail, school and healthcare facilities; homes; the core and shell of a building; new construction; commercial interiors; and existing buildings. Each category has its own set of criteria based on five subcategories: sustainable site development, water savings, materials selection, indoor environmental quality and, most importantly for the ESC, energy efficiency. These subcategories are assigned a maximum number of points that can be achieved by meeting the different criteria for each. The total number of points determines the building's certification level: certified, silver, gold or platinum.