Simply put, "Green Construction" is construction utilizing environmentally friendly materials and energy saving systems. They incorporate recycled materials that reduce landfill waste; energy systems that draw their power from renewable sources rather than oil, coal or gas and materials located in close proximity to the building site.
Why is everyone jumping on the "Green" bandwagon? Energy costs are skyrocketing; power companies are receiving mandates to increase their amount of energy produced through alternative systems; the general public is finding a new appreciation for an environmentally friendly planet; global warming concerns; governmental regulations and tax incentives.
While sustainable design often comes with an increased initial cost over traditional systems, cost savings are realized over time. As an example, geothermal heating and cooling systems may cost more during construction but can often pay for themselves through energy cost savings over a period of seven to ten years. That assumes energy costs remain constant. If they increase, the payback is sooner. Additionally, after the increased costs are captured, there can be tremendous savings over the remaining life of the system. The same can hold true for the inclusion of wind or solar generating systems.
So, what is LEED? It stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED is a green building rating system that was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2000. LEED certification offers third party validation of a project’s green features by assigning points to a variety of sustainable building elements. A building is not required to be LEED Certified to use “Green” building elements.