December 31, 2007
Green PR is everywhere in Park City. ‘Green’ claimants include, recyclers, bamboo flooring contractors, grass roof home builders, town center builders, large lot subdivision developers, etc. Parking lots are sometimes cited as open space. Society needs a way to differentiate meaningful sustainability efforts from greenness claims that are mainly marketing tactics. Leaders worldwide have joined forces to develop meaningful standards and reduce the green-wash.
WHAT IS LEED? LEED is the USGBC’s (United States Green Building Council) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating program released in 2000. Britain pioneered Europe’s sustainability standards in 1990 with BREEAM (Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method). Canada and Australia followed with BEPAC and Greenstar.
LEED is the nationally recognized measurement system designed for rating new and existing commercial, institutional, and residential buildings and neighborhoods. It is based on accepted energy and environmental principles, striking a balance between established practices and emerging concepts. Last September there were 1,097 LEED-certified projects. Another 8,074 projects had registered for certification. Countless others were using LEED standards without seeking certification. The following paraphrases LEED 101, a USGBC course. See http://www.usgbc.org for official and more detail information.
The LEED movement is booming. USGBC members include over 10,500 entities including: Environmental Protection Agency, Steamboat Springs, Harvard University, the Sierra Club, The Natural Resources Defense Council, The Urban Land Institute, Dell Computer, and Continental Airlines. USGBC’s Greenbuild 2007 conference drew 22,000, up from 13,000 in 2006. Governments nationwide are considering or requiring LEED standards, or actual certification.
LEED’s six major programs parallel how building decisions are grouped:
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Core and shell,
LEED for new construction rates commercial and institutional projects. LEED-ND rates new developments’ performance combining compact design, open space preservation, green building, transit proximity, mixed uses integration, pedestrian friendliness, and other smart-growth elements.
Projects applying for LEED certification are rated according to how many ‘points’ each achieves. LEED ‘points’ are awarded for: sustainable sites; water efficiency; energy and atmosphere; building materials and resources; indoor environmental quality; and innovation and design. The LEED auditors are independent and charged with verifying that the green claims are real. Platinum is the highest level of LEED award, followed by Gold, Silver, and Certified level. LEED certified projects are posted on http://www.usgbc.org . This site lists four Park City LEED applicant projects:
Swaner Nature Center’s Eco Center is under construction and expects during 2008 to become only the 26th building in the nation to achieve a LEED New Construction Platinum rating;
Newpark Town Center is one of America’s first 10 new developments being audited for a LEED-ND certification;
Although Park City School District is listed, it reportedly chose to apply LEED standards but not pursue certification; and
Park City Mountain Resort listed its angle station project.
WHY LEED IS IMPORTANT: One USGBC Greenbuild 2007 Conference speaker asserted our country is losing 6,000 acres per day to new development. Much Park City open space is already chopped up and locked away in gated communities. Concerns about global warming have local and national leaders pushing for sustainability and green building. Some governments already require that new public projects, and even some private sector projects, be LEED certified or meet LEED standards.
Green development can be just as profitable as sprawl. Uniform open-space dedications and green construction standards will accelerate our community’s green progress.
Let’s encourage our leaders to require LEED standards for all new construction. Let’s also ask officials to require deed-restricted open-space dedications any time undisturbed lands are approved for development, a standard LEED-ND recognizes. Let’s also take pride in Park City’s exciting history of sustainability achievements!