In honor of Earth Day, we are taking a closer look at LEED Certified projects and the growing trend of projects pushing for sustainable construction.
The first Earth Day was held in 1970, a day that is considered the “birth” of the modern environmental movement. Earth day began as a national “teach-in” on the environment, with 20 million Americans participating in protests, rallies, and demonstrations for a healthy, sustainable environment. Since then, it has paved the way for 35 years of development, research, and innovations in sustainability, becoming a global movement to preserve Earth’s natural resources and create environmentally conscientious practices/standards. The movement caused by the inception of Earth Day has affected nearly every industry in the world, including construction, with more and more projects incorporating eco-friendly designs and green building practices.
“Green” or sustainable building has never been more popular than it is today. More and more of the most high-profile projects have LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Certification goals. This program, which was started in 1998, by the US Green Building Council offers third party certification for projects with sustainable building practices. Even more than that, it offers bragging rights, that a project is on the cutting edge of building innovation, with top billing going to projects that achieve LEED Platinum, the highest certification goal. LEED certification is recognized worldwide as the premier mark of achievement in green building. Since the program began, more than 14,000 projects have achieved the status of LEED Certified.
The California construction industry has fully embraced the trend of green building, cracking the top 10 list of states for LEED projects every year since 2011. In 2014 alone, 517 projects were certified LEED in California. Some of the most prominent construction projects have LEED certification goals, including the Wilshire-Grand Redevelopment project, which is set to be the tallest building west of the Mississippi. For this project, many of the materials used during construction of this project were resused from the previous building, including steel and concrete, which resulted in nearly $4 million dollars in recycling.
While most trends come and go (like bell bottoms and acid wash jeans), the movement towards sustainable building practices has had the last 35 years to develop, and is showing no signs of leaving. So let’s take a moment this Earth Day and think about how far we’ve come, and how much farther we can go with green building!