Green maintenance facilities and practices are becoming more prominent in transit.
Going for the Gold…and Platinum
To measure sustainability, more and more buildings — including transit maintenance facilities — are going for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, a rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
USGBC is a nonprofit organization founded in 1993. It is comprised of more than 12,000 organizations in the building industry that work to expand sustainable building practices, which creates buildings that are environmentally responsible. Membership includes a diverse group, including, real estate developers, architects, engineers, designers, general contractors, government agencies and nonprofits. Members from within each of the sectors participate in the development of the LEED Green Building Rating System.
The LEED rating system is a voluntary point-based rating system that promotes green building and development practices through its performance criteria. The rating system, developed in 2000, offers third-party validation of a project’s green practices. It also provides the building industry with standards as to what constitutes a green building.
LEED recognizes six categories of human and environmental health — Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality and Innovation in Design. Projects earn points for satisfying specific criteria in each of these six categories.
According to USGBC, LEED certification offers environmental and financial benefits, including lower operating costs and increased asset value, reduced waste sent to landfills, conservation of energy and water, healthier and safer buildings for occupants, reduced harmful greenhouse gas emissions, qualification for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives and it demonstrates the owner’s commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility. The four progressive levels of LEED certification are Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.
As the examples in this story illustrate, green buildings don’t necessarily cost more. There are often mid- and long-term returns on investment (ROI) associated with additional green features, such as alternative energy sources. According to the 2004 study “Costing Green” done by the cost consultant, David Langdon, the cost per square foot for buildings seeking certification falls into the existing range of costs for buildings not seeking certification. According to USGBC, a $4 investment per square foot in building green nets a $58 benefit per square foot over 20 years.