LEED Certified: Leading the way?

7:09 PM, Oct 24, 2012   |    comments
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Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- LEED certified is a popular term right now in the construction business, but our news partner found that many builders do the "minimum" to get the LEED certification. 

USA Today found some of the green certified buildings had little environmental benefit. In addition, the Green Building Council that gives out the certification only has one environmentalist on the board. 

Locally, Grand Rapids has a positive image in the LEED building community. Still, some people we spoke with says there can be improvements to the certification system.

Grand Rapids is a green building leader. It ranks fifth per capita for its number of LEED buildings with ninety buildings. 

Bruce Thompson from Rockford Construction has built LEED buildings like the Grand Rapids Art Museum. He says LEED certification standards have raised the bar. 

Thompson says, "Energy efficiency standards will continue to get stronger I think there will be more renewable energy elements that are incorporated-- will raise the bar-- which in the end I think helps everybody." 

But LEED certification has its issues. The point system labels a LEED building in four tiers: the base level is LEED certified, then silver, gold and platinum. As you climb up the ladder towards platinum your building becomes more environmentally friendly.

"There is an up-tick even at the base level, but I encourage people to go beyond that." 

Guy Bazzani, a local designer says the point system can be complicated.

Bazzani says, "It's not a design manual so I think what happens is people get a little off track and garner points to achieve a gold star on your forehead let's say." 

Brett Little confirmed that sentiment. He works for the Alliance for Environmental Sustainability. He says commercial LEED buildings are not checked by a third party where the housing side is. 

Little says, "We work with energy raters and green raters who physically go into the sites before the dry wall is up, after the dry wall and does testing so that the team that says they've installed measures to make the homes greener has actually done it."

Little recommends putting a third party in place to review commercial buildings as well.

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