A building project boasting a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification usually conjures images of an innovative design, a healthier environment, less energy consumption, and lower utility bills. But LEED goes beyond comfort and cost savings to encourage building owners to protect one of the world’s most vital natural resources – water. In order to become LEED certified, a building must achieve at least a 20% reduction in water usage, with additional points available for water efficiency measures implemented both indoors and out.
The LEED certification process evaluates a building’s environmental performance in several categories, including Water Efficiency. What are some strategies available to LEED projects to earn points and achieve water efficiency?
Outdoor Water Use
Building designers, owners, and operators are encouraged to limit the use of potable water resources for landscape irrigation. Potable water is water that meets the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for drinkable water approved for human consumption. In order to achieve this water conservation goal, the following should be considered:
Indoor Water Use
Beyond Water Efficiency
Beyond the Water Efficiency category, LEED also addresses water protections in the Sustainable Sites: Stormwater Design Category. Within this category, points are awarded for measures that control the rate, quantity, and quality of stormwater runoff, to protect receiving bodies of water from erosion and pollution.
Moving Forward with LEED v4
With the expected rollout of LEED Version 4 in 2013, water efficiency credits within the LEED certification point system will be upgraded to further promote the protection of water as a vital resource. Since the EPA estimates that at least 36 states will be facing water shortages by 2013, the updates to the LEED system are timely. Changes include guidelines for water metering, use of the EPA’s WaterSense label program, and cooling tower water use. The changes demonstrate LEED’s ongoing commitment to the conservation and protection of water as part of sustainable building design, operations, and maintenance.
To learn more about green building strategies and the latest version of LEED, check out Everblue’s LEED training courses.