Chicago Takes the LEED The Ins and Outs of LEED Certification

There are two ways—and only two ways—to balance a budget: increase revenue or decrease spending. Whether you’re the treasurer of a co-op board or the President of the United States, those are the only two levers at your disposal.

Energy is no different. With the global population soaring, with oil reserves plateauing just as new markets are emerging in China and India—and with the climate changing at an unsustainable rate—the need to both increase sources of energy and conserve the ones we have has never been more vital.

The Gold Standard

Cities like Chicago comprise a golden opportunity to do just that. Illinois is second only to Colorado in per capita green living space, and the Windy City is among the national leaders in green building, with more square feet of green roofs, and more LEED-certified buildings than any other metropolitan area in the United States.

Since it was first implemented 20 years ago, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)'s LEED certification has been the gold standard when it comes to measuring a building's environmental conscience. Being LEED-certified at any level means that much thought and planning was put into a building before ground was even broken to begin construction. LEED buildings have an array of advantages over non-certified buildings—some of which are wallet-based, some of which are body- and health-based.

According to the USGBC, the residential market—from multi- to single-family, from market rate to affordable housing, is reaping the benefits of using green building techniques. Since the launch of LEED for Homes in 2008, more than 39,000 homes have received LEED for Homes certification and over 111,000 are registered for certification. Over half of all LEED-certified homes are in the affordable housing category, the USGBC says.

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