Sustainable companies and eco-friendly products are becoming an increasingly important factor in consumers' buying decisions. A recent study showed that globally, 85% of the survey participants have shifted their buying behavior to be more sustainable in the past five years. This presents a huge opportunity for businesses to commit to sustainable practices and capitalize on this focus on environmentally-friendly and ethical practices.
There are a couple of popular ways companies showcase their commitment to sustainability. Some e-commerce businesses have engineered ways to ship their products to be carbon neutral. Others focus their sustainable efforts on making their product packaging more environmentally-friendly. Organizations that provide a service rather than a product often look to LEED certification for their buildings to exemplify their dedication to being green.
Luckily in today's world, organizations have a lot of options and opportunities to be green. In this blog, we'll be diving into that last topic of LEED certification—what it is, how you can gain points, and how a commercial solar energy system can help you get there.
What is LEED Certification?
Created by the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council, LEED certification is an environmentally-friendly status buildings and projects can achieve. The acronym stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is the globally recognized standard for green buildings and neighborhoods. There are several categories to gain points in, and different levels of certifications a building or project can achieve. These range from achievements in sustainable sites, water efficiency, and indoor environmental quality to name a few categories.
Why should you care about being LEED certified?
While greener projects and buildings are something to celebrate within itself, there are other benefits to achieving a LEED certification. LEED-certified buildings consume less energy than more traditional buildings, which help the building owners and occupants save on energy bills. For those working inside your building, it can lead to more comfortable environments to work in as well. The reduction in energy used also has a direct correlation to your building's energy footprint and results in less greenhouse gas emissions.
Buildings that are LEED certified also carry with them a prestige that traditional buildings miss out on. The value of a LEED-certified building is higher than their traditional counterparts, especially if the building has a solar energy system installed.
If your company has sustainability goals, constructing a building that's LEED certified is a way to show your commitment to healthy communities where you operate. As the market becomes more competitive and consumers are looking to make more sustainable choices, being green through a LEED certification is a way to stand apart from the crowd. As sustainable building practices become more common, your company and building will already be ahead of the curve.
Levels of LEED Certifications
There are various levels and certifications your building or project can achieve. These range from the lowest basic level and span to the top LEED Platinum status, the highest building certification. There are also more specific categories to achieve status in, like LEED for New Construction, LEED for Core & Shell, LEED for Retail, and LEED for Healthcare, to name some specific categories.
The certification levels are based on a 100-point scale comprised of six categories that are worth 15 points each. To achieve a basic certification, a building must acquire a minimum of 40 points. For LEED Platinum, 80 points must be accumulated. The following categories are worth 15 points each.
- Sustainable Sites
- Water Efficiency
- Energy and Atmosphere
- Materials and Resources
- Indoor Environmental Quality
Buildings can also get an additional 4 points for regional priority and an additional 6 points for innovation in design. As you can see, there are a number of ways your organization can gain LEED points—it's just up to your company to decide which ones to focus on.
Commercial Solar Power and LEED Status
Installing commercial solar on your building is a great way to gain LEED points in the Energy and Atmosphere category. Instead of earning a flat amount of points, like the categories points might lead you to believe, the amount of points you earn by installing solar is based on the ratio of energy your building consumes and what percentage of that is covered by solar production. So the more kilowatt-hours you install, the more points you'll earn.
If your organization and commercial solar partner team up to design an innovative and high-impact solar energy system, you can potentially earn additional points in the innovation in design category. We recommend speaking to an experienced commercial solar partner to discuss what options you have to gain the maximum amount of points for your solar installation.
There is another big benefit to installing solar on your building: lower energy costs. By lowering the amount of expensive energy you purchase from your local utility, you'll be able to reinvest that extra money back into your company or add to your bottom line. There are also limited-time incentives, like the 26% solar tax credit that will decrease to 22% on January 1st, 2023, that make going solar even more financially feasible and help speed up the return on your commercial solar investment.
If you're interested in solar—whether that's to gain LEED points or to save on your organization's electricity bills—we can help. With over 16 years of experience, Sun Valley Solar Solutions has designed some of the largest commercial solar systems in the southwest. Simply click the button below to request a free commercial solar consultation.