Looking For The LEED In Buildings

By: Jill Cordes
By: Jill Cordes
Making greener buildings in on the rise.

Installers for South Coast Solar install solar panels on the roof of a home n New Orleans, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008. Solar CEO Tucker Crawford credits the business boom in solar power to the tax breaks, whiche he called the "most aggressive tax credit (package) for residential solar in the country." (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

No doubt you've heard of "green" buildings. What you might not know is that since 1998, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED certification has grown to more than 14,000 projects in 50 States and 30 countries.

Developers who construct buildings using LEED standards earn credits toward becoming fully LEED certified by using sustainable building practices and materials.

Some of the main improvements this year include higher standards for reducing energy use and more options for using roof materials that reduce the urban heat-island effect. Developers can also earn certification points for buildings with on-site renewable energy, like wind, solar or geothermal.

Another important change to the improved LEED standard is region-specific emphasis. For instance, in the Northeast, the focus is on efficient heating and in the Southeast and West, the focus is on wise water use.

And even if you aren't in a LEED certified dwelling, simple energy retrofits like replacing, windows and light bulbs or inefficient insulation are ways to reduce your business or home's carbon footprint.

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