It should come as no surprise to anyone that the current global situation is anything but sustainable. The current pandemic has only highlighted our concerns regarding socio-economic inequality, unsustainable resource consumption, and rampant pollution. To that end, many NGOs, public agencies, and national governments are making drastic yet unavoidable changes needed to not only address the pandemic currently but also to address the previously stated global concerns, such as the overarching need to move into a more sustainable mindset quickly.
Many of us may already think that we do our share by recycling, using mass transit when feasible, and purchasing eco-friendly products of all kinds. However, these changes, significant as they are, have not been universally adopted, plus they are not enough to counteract the damage that has been done and continues to occur. Therefore, we not only need to keep up with the best sustainable practices at home, work, and play, we must also embrace a sustainable community, as well as make a committed effort collectively to decrease our negative impact on the planet.
Although there are various certification systems worldwide that address sustainability in the building environment, the most commonly used are BREEAM (U.K.,) DGNB (Germany,) and LEED (USA.) All three offer guidelines for developing sustainable homes, buildings, and communities, which can lead to obtaining official certification, the important thing to note is that the guidelines they provide are helpful and crucial to improving all our lives; regardless of whether you pursue accreditation or not. All three offer a framework and checklists to help us make a concerted effort when impacting our environment, which can occur through building a new home or remodeling an existing one; influencing and getting involved in the development of our parks, roads and common public areas; and purchasing, recycling, and composting products and their containers. In this article, I will focus on LEED since I am a LEED Accredited Professional, but also because, in my opinion, LEED, through the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC,) offers the most user-friendly and affordable approach.
LEED guidelines and requirements include the following areas, as well as sub-areas, which help lessen the impact on our environment while increasing the quality of life of our communities and cities:
- Location and Transportation, which includes, among others
- Sensitive land protection
- Density and diverse uses
- Access to quality public transit
- Bicycle facilities and
- Reduced parking footprint
- Sustainable Sites
- Construction activity pollution prevention
- Protect or restore natural habitats
- Provide open spaces
- Rainwater management, including harvesting
- Water efficiency
- Indoor and outdoor water use reduction
- Energy and Atmosphere
- Optimized energy performance
- Renewable energy production
- Green power and carbon offsets
- Materials and Resources
- Storage and collection of recyclables
- Source pollution reduction
- Waste management
- Indoor Environmental Quality
- Tobacco smoke control
- Thermal comfort
- Interior lighting and daylight
As noted above, this is only a partial list of the sustainability issues LEED covers. Still, it provides a clear overview of the areas, which, when addressed, can significantly improve our health while minimizing the negative effect on our surrounding environment.
We all have a part to play in instilling and improving sustainability measures in our lives, families, communities, and future generations. To that end, it is best to start with educating oneself with the resources available to us, and then subsequently to educate others. Becoming a LEED AP, and putting these best sustainability practices in place whenever applicable, will go a far way to address the current global crisis, as well as be better prepared for future events.
We at PM Workshops offer courses in sustainable guidelines and practices, such as ISO 14000 Environmental Management, ISO 37101 Sustainable Development in Communities, and LEED Courses to help you pass the USGBC exam and become accredited. You can find our course descriptions and schedules at Workshops for Professional Development. You may also contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at:
- Germany +34 665 85 54 96
- Spain: +49 171 204 2959
- USA: +1-415-800-3035