Transform to Sustainability has previously written about LEED certifications and the work required to obtain them. This guest post by Noelle Hirsch touches on the benefits of LEED certification as it relates to several states within the U.S. -- not surprisingly, thousands of dollars can be saved over time from just a few simple green tune-ups on an old building. Noelle claims to write for an expert construction management website called www.ConstructionManagement.net (although I have had trouble verifying this claim).
The Benefits of Investing in LEED Certification and Retrofitting Old Buildings
As the effects of climate change have become increasingly apparent in recent years, the importance of reducing carbon emissions for environmental health has been espoused in all forms of media. While many people today acknowledge the environmental necessity of raising energy efficiency, most individuals are still unaware of how sustainable construction and building maintenance can substantially reduce power costs. Yet, an increasingly wide body of research is finding that by following the standards of The US Green Building Council's LEED program, building managers and residential owners can save thousands of dollars by building with green principles in mind or retrofitting existing structures.
Energy audits often find inefficiencies in lighting, heating and cooling, and plumbing, which can prove very costly in the long term. Findings from the Department of Energy suggest that switching out traditional incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescents or LEDs can reduce costs by as much as 75%, at times making up the initial cost difference in as little as six months. Upgrading a building's insulation and windows can often lead to a marked reduction in heating and cooling costs. Energy Star windows with a low-emittance coating and double panes filled with argon gas, for instance, can substantially keep warm air from escaping in the winter while keeping cool air contained in the summer months.
While energy efficiency upgrades can save costs after only a few short months, early adopters of LEED retrofitting also benefit from a number of valuable federal, state, and local green building subsidies and incentives. New York State currently offers a green residential building grant program to encourage the construction of new homes and the renovation of existing homes that follow green building standards and criteria. Builders and developers in Los Angeles can take advantage of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Green Building Incentive that offers up to $250,000 in financial incentives to assist in building to meet LEED standards.
Contrary to popular opinion, cities that embrace sustainable building are not only found in New York and California, though. Increasingly, communities across the US, from Hawaii to Maryland to Oregon, offer tax credits and abatements that credit specific tax liabilities back to property owners that achieve measurable, verifiable green building goals. Though many builders and building managers are still hesitant to make expansive building retrofits, government aide and long term savings are proving sustainable building and renovations to be a very effective investment. Builders who embrace LEED practices can gain media exposure and build goodwill among the public while enjoying substantial savings and positively impacting our environment.