LEED Legislation throughout the U.S.
In just over ten years since its inception, the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification program has brought changes to the way local and federal governments implement and regulate building development and renovation projects. Buildings that are designed and built, or renovated to obtain LEED designation go beyond just being energy efficient. LEED certified buildings incorporate sustainable building techniques and materials from the start of the project, with the site location and use of recycled materials in construction, to the lifelong impact of the building on the local environment. LEED certification is becoming a standard in green building that not only creates sustainable development, but also saves on costs for the life of that building. It is for these reasons that there is now active legislation throughout the country to promote and mandate LEED certification buildings.
It may comes as no surprise that San Francisco was one of the first cities to mandate that certain building projects be LEED certified. All city building projects must obtain a minimum of a silver level of LEED certification. To encourage private builders to work towards LEED the city gives the permit applications for green building projects priority and faster processing. As a result San Francisco now has several large scale green buildings to be proud of. The city’s famous Transamerica building just received a LEED gold certification in December 2009. The recently opened California Academy of Sciences received the highest LEED certification rating of platinum, laying claim to being the world’s “greenest” and “most sustainable museum.”
Although San Francisco has some notable LEED buildings, it is not the only city using LEED certification to create greener and more sustainable city buildings. Cities around the country are using mandates and incentives as part of local legislation on LEED. Huntington, Long Island now offers a partial refund on the builder’s fees once the building’s LEED certification becomes final. The refund is 80% of the builder’s fees paid to the city. In Cincinnati, home owners can get a 15 year property tax reprieve if their home is LEED certified. Seattle, Scottsdale, Houston, Boston, Atlanta, and dozens of other cities across the country have enacted various legislative mandates requiring that city buildings and projects meet certain levels of LEED certification.
State governments are also recognizing the value of LEED legislation. In California all new state buildings larger than 10,000 square feet must now be built to a LEED silver. Michigan and several other states have similar requirements for their state funded buildings. LEED buildings in Nevada are exempt from local taxes. The push towards green building and LEED by states and local governments shows that this is a green trend that is becoming a standard building construction and land development practice.