A LEED certified research facility means that the building in question has been approved by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. Below explains the details, benefits and challenges of this unique sustainability program.

LEED-based Certification

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program is a sustainability performance rating system that was created by the U. S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The purpose of the program is to assess and grade the environmental performances of buildings and promote business decisions that support sustainable designs and operations. The LEED-based certification program uses a scoring system and awards points for appropriate, eco-friendly actions taken during the design, construction and use of a building. The program was created to establish a universal rating system that will accelerate the development and implementation of green building standards and practices. Although the program is flexible, all projects must meet basic requirements to qualify.

Building Types

There are actually many types of LEED-based certifications. The Building Design and Construction category applies to retail, educational, hospital, warehouse and distribution and health care buildings. The Building Operations and Maintenance certification applies to minor renovation projects that occur within all of the previously mentioned industries. The Interior Design and Construction credential applies to renovation projects that occur in retail, hospitality and commercial interiors. The Neighborhood Development program is for redevelopment or new land development projects that contain both residential and non-residential uses. These projects may occur at any stage of the development process. The Homes program is for single, low-rise family homes and multi-family mid-rise homes. The brand new LEEDv4 certification is for organizations with multiple buildings.

The Sustainability Checklist

The certification program uses a standard checklist that awards points for certain features and functions. For example, the sustainable site category awards points for attempts to carefully develop the site, protect or restore habitat and properly design a storm water system. The energy and atmosphere category requires a minimum energy performance plan that specifies how the building owner will optimize energy performance and material resources. Points are awarded for buildings that utilize reused building materials in walls, floors and the roof. Post-consumer recycled content and regional building materials will add extra points. Other categories include innovative design process, construction waste management and post-project water and electricity sharing.

Resource: 50 Best Graduate Research Institutes

What are the Benefits?

Although it's a voluntary program, obtaining a USGBC's stamp of approval sends a positive environmental message to the community. When it comes to marketing competitiveness, one of the best tools is an eco-friendly program that is globally recognized. The implementation of green building practices will lower energy costs and maintenance fees over the life of the building. Buildings that have the LEED's certification stamp will provide better indoor air quality, energy efficiency and plenty of daylight. Working in a pleasant and comfortable work environment will indirectly increase productivity, employee engagement and customer satisfaction levels. This is important because rent, labor and maintenance are a company's largest business expenses.

A LEED accredited research facility will demonstrate to the public the program's commitment to sustainable practices and green building standards.