One of my top concerns as a designer is creating sustainable environments that, as a part of a broader movement, will protect and safeguard our planet for future generations. We live in a world of finite resources and it is important to use them judiciously so that they will be there for our children and grandchildren. As design professionals, we do our part through green design, or what I like to call smart design.
That is where LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, comes in. It is a certification program that shows how “green” a building, building interior, or environment is and how well it complies with LEED’s requirements in terms of energy conservation, water usage, air quality, and building materials used during construction and thereafter. It is one of many rating systems in use today.
The built environment is responsible for an enormous amount of global energy use, resource consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions. In the US alone, buildings account for almost 40% of our national CO2 emissions and out-consume both the industrial and transportation sectors. LEED-certified buildings have 34% lower CO2 emissions, consume 25% less energy and 11% less water, and have diverted more than 80 million tons of waste from landfills. Today, there are almost 2,000 LEED-certified buildings in New York City and that number is increasing.
As designers we create more energy efficient environment through the selection of energy efficient LED light fixtures and lighting systems which reduce power usage, selection of plumbing fixtures which reduces water consumption, and the specification of building materials, finishes, and furnishing which are sustainable resourced and manufactured. Today, more than ever, given the excellent choices available in the market, we can create environments that are both sustainable and beautifully designed.