In compliance with the Travis County’s (Austin, Texas) green building policy, the new Travis County Commissioners Court is committed to achieving a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification. The county ordinance mandates that each new building or renovation project exceeding $1 million will fulfill the US Green Building Council’s LEED® certification.
The LEED® certification has four differing levels, which are determined by the building’s accumulation of energy efficiency and environmental consideration points. The program also emphasizes the use of local, green building materials and appliances.The four LEED® rating levels are:
As an example, the platinum level must accrue more than 80 LEED® points from six different energy and environmental categories. Recent reports indicate that employees are comfortable in LEED® certified buildings. LEED® certifications represent a healthy work environment and the buildings are commanding higher market values than non-LEED® certified entities.The Travis County green building policy was passed unanimously and applies to all construction and renovation projects for county-owned buildings. The private sector is expected but not required to follow suit.
The county’s new policy will require design and construction practices that significantly reduce energy and operating costs while minimizing the negative impact on the environment as well as advancing social environmental responsibilities.
Remarkably, less than 20,000 existing buildings in the U.S. meet the minimum LEED® certification standards. Despite acknowledging that LEED® certification leads to lower operating costs and provides healthier workplaces, many building owners have been unwilling to bring existing buildings into compliance.On the other hand, more than 75% of new property developers have expressed acceptance of the LEED® certification rating and certification process. This number shows a positive trend in environmental concerns and energy efficiency.LEED® certification professionals stand ready to help with all green building concerns. Architects, community planners, real estate developers and construction industry associates are encouraged to contact LEED® representatives.