The U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit coalition representing the building industry, has created a comprehensive system for building green called LEED™, short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The LEED program provides investors, architects and designers, construction personnel, and building managers with information on green building techniques and strategies. At the same time, LEED certifies buildings that meet the highest standards of economic and environmental performance, and offers professional education, training, and accreditation. Another aspect of the LEED system is its Professional Accreditation, which recognizes an individual's qualifications in sustainable building. In 1999, the LEED Commercial Interior Committee was formed to develop definitive standards for what constitutes a green interior space, and guidelines for sustainable maintenance. The LEED program is currently developing materials for commercial interiors, residential work, and operations and maintenance.
Interior designers are among those becoming LEED- ¿( accredited professionals by passing the LEED Profes-
When a New York City social services agency prepared to renovate a former industrial building into a children's services center, they sought a designer with the ability to create a healthy, safe environment for families in need. Karen's awareness of the ability of an interior to foster a nurturing environment and her strong interest in sustainable design caught their attention. Her LEED certification added to her credentials, and Karen was selected as interior designer for the project.
The building took up a full city block from sidewalk to sidewalk, so an interior courtyard was turned into a playground for the children. The final design incorporated energy-efficient windows that brought in light without wasting heated or conditioned air. Recycled and nonpolluting construction materials were selected for their low impact on the environment, including cellulose wall insulation and natural linoleum and tile flooring materials. Karen's familiarity with sustainable design issues not only led to a building renovation that used energy wisely and avoided damage to the environment, but also created an interior where children and their families could feel cared for and safe.
sional Accreditation Examination. More and more architects, engineers, and interior designers are realizing the business advantages of marketing green design strategies. This is a very positive step toward a more sustainable world, yet it is important to verify the credentials of those touting green design. The LEED Professional Accreditation Examination establishes minimum competency in much the same way as the NCIDQ exam seeks to set a universal standard by which to measure the competency of interior designers to practice as professionals. Training workshops are available to prepare for the exam.
Receiving LEED accreditation offers a way for designers to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. As green buildings go mainstream, both government and private sector projects will begin to require a LEED-accredited designer on the design teams they hire.
The LEED process for designing a green building starts with setting goals. Next, alternative strategies are evaluated. Finally, the design of the whole building is approached in a spirit of integration and inspiration.
It is imperative to talk with all the people involved in the building's design about goals; sometimes the best ideas come from the most unlikely places. Ask how each team member can serve the goals of this project. Include the facilities maintenance people in the design process, to give feedback to designers about what actually happens in the building, and to cultivate their support for new systems. Goals can be sabotaged when an architect, engineer, or contractor gives lip service to green design, but reacts to specifics with "We've never done it that way before," or its evil twin "We've always done it this way." Question whether time is spent on why team members can't do something, or on finding a solution—and whether higher fees are requested just to overcome opposition to a new way of doing things. Finally, be sure to include the building's users in the planning process; this sounds obvious, but it is not always done.
In 1999, the U.S. government's General Services Administration (GSA) Public Building Service (PBS) made a commitment to use the LEED rating system for all future design, construction, and repair and alterations of federal construction projects and is working on revising its leases to include requirements that spaces leased for customers be green. The Building Green Program includes increased use of recycled materials, waste management, and sustainable design. The PBS chooses products with recycled content, optimizes natural daylight, installs energy-efficient equipment and lighting, and installs water-saving devices. The Denver Courthouse serves as a model for these goals. It uses photovoltaic cells and daylighting shelves, along with over 100 other sustainable building features, enabling it to apply for a LEED Gold Rating.
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