Sustainable Design for the 21st Century


by Brent Sauser

In the Spring of 2005 I stepped into a testing center in Orlando, Florida to become a LEED Accredited Professional.  LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” and was developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC).  I studied a few hours a night for three months and managed to pass the test on my first attempt.  Holding the credentials of a LEED Accredited Professional, along with my Architectural license, means a lot to me.  In fact, it is encouraging to know that the days of the dollar driven bottom line are truly over.  Because of the constant vigilance of the USGBC and other like-minded organizations green building and sustainable building principles are now required for government construction and has been written into building code language.  More needs to be done to get where it needs to be, but we are moving in the right direction.  The Triple Bottom Line is no longer a request, but a requirement!  We are moving (albeit slowly) to Net Zero. 

 The USGBC promotes green building and sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated.  Begun in 1993, the USGBC uses the LEED rating system to determine the degree of sustainability to be achieved for any construction project.  The higher the rating the more sustainable the building is.  A Net Zero building is usually associated with achieving the highest LEED rating level (or Platinum).  With each new iteration of the LEED rating system we move one or two steps higher on the ladder to total sustainability and serves as the primary vehicle to move the design and building industry toward a carbon neutral, Net Zero solution.    Manufacturers have seen this transition and have responded by providing products that better comply with specific LEED criteria such as:  roofing materials with high reflectivity; low flow plumbing fixtures; building materials with high recycled content; low VOC paints, adhesives, and sealants; Energy Star appliances; and high efficiency mechanical equipment, etc.  Each year the USGBC sponsors a green building convention that continues to grow.  This year I will be attending the 2012 GreenBuild Convention in San Francisco and look forward to seeing the 1,000 exhibitors promoting products that intend to move us toward Net Zero. 

 Please click on the organizations below for more information regarding their specific contribution to Sustainability and the Green Building movement:

 U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)



Green Globes

Energy Star

Cradle to Cradle

Water Sense

The Living Building Challenge

Category: Editorial
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