The LEED Rating System is Defining Excellence by Defying Obsolete Perceptions

The way to really jump-start the green movement is to convince private enterprises that alternative energy and responsible practices can also help their bottom line.

Money is powerful and in politics ever-present, as long as leaders of industry believe old practices are better for their profit margins, it will be difficult to make strong headway on tightening regulations. However, though legal regulations may move slowly, money talks and the push by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system has been the impetus for change, raising the standards above legal minimums and in the process birthing evidence that sustainable practices can provide better values than obsolete methods ever did.

The LEED rating system was developed to “evaluate a building’s resource efficiency and environmental impacts.” Under President Clinton the U.S. Green Building Council, between 1993 and 1998, developed what is now the world standard for sustainable building projects. Since 1998 there has been an exponential shift, away from established norms, towards sustainable building delivery systems.

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Sustainable Urban Planning, Cities Saving the World

Sustainable urban planning brings the most important concepts from the Green movement together into a single coherent plan. The heat island affect, solar heat gain, population density, alternative transportation, renewable energy, conservation, water capture and recycling are all ideas, threats and solutions that fall under the jurisdiction of sustainable urban planning.

The principles include creating lasting, compact walkable neighborhoods that encourage frequent “collisions” between citizens, eliminating separate use zoning and high volume road standards, promoting shared and mixed use form, focusing on sustainability and reinvigorating urban spaces that have been lost to urban blight.

24_Las Vegas Cyclery_LVC_ssThe concepts of the Triple Bottom Line philosophy are perfectly expressed in sustainable urban planning. As a community development, considering people is imperative because space is the product and the space must be filled.

Low waste design saves money for tenants, cheap energy saves money for everyone, native plants add to beautification, which pleases people, and reduces heat gain which saves money. Pleasing people brings in more tenants which in turn raises profits.

A strong example of sustainable urban planning is New York City’s PlaNYC, a city wide effort to address the long-term challenges of a city forecasted to contain 9.1 million residents by 2030. Changing climate conditions, changing economy and aging infrastructure. More than 25 City agencies and partners joined to outline initiatives and goals to improve the quality of life for New Yorkers for the future.

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The Las Vegas Cyclery Saves Money the Old Fashioned Way: Innovation

Las Vegas has more green buildings per capita than any city in the United States, with the only close competitor being Washington, D.C., where sustainability minded laws and regulations are more prevalent than anywhere else in the country.LV Cyclery LEED 2013 2

Las Vegas has taken the lead in the realm of private innovation, with the Strip’s Casinos and the all new Downtown taking center stage. Yet, in the face of billion dollar projects and world renowned enterprises, according to LVC tour guide Aaron Barborka, the first net-zero-energy and LEED Platinum Certified building in the country, is the Las Vegas Cyclery (LVC).

No other property in the city, and apparently in the country, has so adhered to the “Triple Bottom Line” philosophy of “People, Planet, Profits,” perhaps even prioritizing profits below the “people and places” aspects.

The Las Vegas Cyclery has tied their success tighter with the environmental mindset than most could imagine. The designers covered their alternative transportation concerns by selecting a location adjacent to a bus stop, prioritizing parking for carpoolers, and sustainable vehicles, even installing an electric-car charging station.

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