Buildings in the United States use approximately 40% of total energy consumed are responsible for 38% of all CO2 emissions and 68% of all electricity. (Source: epa.gov) As a Sustainable Design firm, Abraham + Associates Architects makes it one of their goals to provide guidance in creating architecture that embodies energy efficient strategies, waste minimization and occupant health. Although these issues have been a concern of our firm since the beginning, they have not been considered a part of standard practice, but that is starting to change and Abraham + Associates are at the forefront of implementing that change. The United States Green Building Council has developed LEED standards applicable to building design and construction, interior design and construction, building operations and maintenance, homes and neighborhood development. In fact, Loren Abraham, our founding principal, was also a founding member of the US Green Building Council in 1993, and was an instrumental contributor to the early development of the LEED guidelines. In the last 10 years these standards are becoming better known in the industry and more desirable to comply with in light of current world issues and Abraham + Associates Architects strives to employ these measures whenever possible.
What is LEED?
LEED (Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized, voluntary green building certification system developed by the USGBC. Third-party verification is provided by the Green Building Certification Institute for a building that was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance via specific metrics that will decrease the buildings’ carbon footprint. Energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts are all considered in the LEED process as a means are reducing the carbon footprint. Metrics are folded into seven categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Indoor Environmental Quality, Materials and Resources, Innovative Design and Regional Priority. These key areas contain strategies, or credits, that the owner, design team and contactor can choose to follow, however eight credits are considered prerequisites and must be completed. LEED is also a very positive marketing strategy allowing owners to rate their building, based on credits completed, as Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum Certification indicating to the pubic the level of sustainability it has achieved. LEED is a credible and well organized tool to ensure that projects become more energy efficient, healthful working and living places as well as fostering an integrated design approach.
How can LEED certification be achieved?
Abraham + Associates are members of the US Green Building Council and have extensive experience in registering, administering and certifying LEED projects, whether it be for LEED-NC (for new construction and major renovation) or LEED-EB (for Existing Buildings) or LEED-H (for single family homes) or LEED-ND (for neighborhood development.) As the effects of climate change become apparent the need to design more energy efficient buildings is paramount. Whole building design, particularly with respect to LEED requirements, has been the focus of Abraham + Associates Architects since its inception and we apply this methodology to all of the work we do, both as the Lead design firm and also as the sustainable design consultant as well.
Abraham + Associates Architects is at the forefront of LEED implementation and offers services as consultants for managing the LEED process on projects. In this capacity our firm will discuss which strategies are best to pursue from a “Life-cycle Cost” standpoint, how they may be achieved, and possibilities for further integration, synergies and possibly even going beyond LEED from a restorative approach. Throughout the process we will provide support to the owner, design team and contractors by registering and maintaining the LEED online application process as well as coordinating all LEED related requirements and documentation with other consultants on the project, during design and also during the construction phase. Periodic updates and meetings are planned to ensure that the designers, contractors, and owner are made aware of the status of the LEED process as well as where changes may need to be made to ensure the agreed upon credits are met.
Note: Currently approximately 1/3 of our staff are LEED AP (accredited by the USGBC/GBCI) with the goal of 100% accreditation by 2010.