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Simplifying Sustainability: Getting to Know LEED and WELL Certifications

As environmental awareness rises among building professionals, many architects have begun to prioritize sustainable building materials. Organizations across the United States have committed to reward professionals who align with sustainable practices, offering certifications for building with the vitality of the Earth and its citizens in mind.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification and the WELL Building Standard® are particularly popular among architects. Let’s get to know how they impact the day-to-day design process and see how LP products fit into these environmental standards.

LEED vs. WELL Certification: What’s the Difference?

Started by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED aims to raise the bar for building standards and enable buildings and communities to promote health by transforming how structures are designed, constructed and operated. Projects earn LEED certification points for sustainable choices across several categories: energy efficiency, water conservation, material selection, day lighting and waste reduction.

The WELL Building Standard® encompasses health and wellness while encouraging the use of efficient building materials and resources. It seeks to improve human health and wellbeing through the built environment. Drawing on the connection between design and human flourishing, WELL Certified spaces foster environments that improve daily life when it comes to nutrition, sleep patterns, mood and more.

The Details

“LEED and WELL guidelines have provided us with some best practices that often get carried through to all projects regardless of whether they are seeking certification,” Rachel Martin, Residential Studio Manager and Senior Associate at Pfeffer Torode Architecture, reflects. Here are the basics of building with LEED and WELL guidelines in mind.

LEED Rating Systems

Unique systems exist for varying building projects, including neighborhoods, new single-family homes, schools, and more. Each scorecard includes prerequisites and point values that contribute to the building’s total points and determines the level of certification. LEED projects can earn one of four LEED certification levels: Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum.

The WELL Building Standard®

Well Building Standard

The WELL Building Standard® includes 11 foundational concepts:

  • Air
  • Water
  • Nourishment
  • Light
  • Movement
  • Thermal comfort
  • Sound
  • Materials
  • Mind
  • Community
  • Innovations

Once preconditions are met, structures can achieve Silver, Gold and Platinum levels of WELL certification.

Getting Credentialed

Architects themselves can also obtain professional credentials to reflect their LEED and WELL expertise with passing exam scores and, at times, continuing education.

LEED Green Associates show general knowledge of green building principles, supporting others on LEED projects.

LEED Accredited Professionals is an advanced credentialing signifying expertise in green building and a LEED rating system.

WELL Accredited Professionals show that they have expertise in the WELL Building Standard® and have committed to advancing human flourishing through the structures they design and build.

Working Together

LEED and WELL certifications work toward similar goals. At times, choices architects make to align with LEED standards will contribute to WELL certification and vice versa. Especially when it comes to materials, LEED and WELL overlap often—and can be used within any project.

This is key as architects help clients attain specific sustainability goals. Martin finds that many homeowners enjoy the flexibility of employing green features that fit their budgets. “All projects have a budget, and while some aspects of sustainability are free (how you site the building, for example), others still come at a premium,” she says. “Once a homeowner is educated on the benefits of green building, they become more engaged in the technical aspects, not just the aesthetics.”

Building a Better World With LP

As mentioned, materials are important considerations within these ratings systems—materials must meet certain specifications. As a manufacturer of engineered wood products, LP pursues partnerships with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) and innovates to produce sustainable building materials that can help gain points within these rating systems.

SFI-certified products, including LP Legacy® Premium Sub-Flooring and LP® SolidStart® framing materials, are acceptable within LEED rating systems. LP® SmartSide® Trim & Siding products use low-emitting binders and resins for durability. They contribute to meeting the WELL Building Standard for exterior materials, which mandates products must not include known human carcinogens, such as lead and chromium. And, of course, LP SmartSide products are made from sustainable materials, aligning with LEED and WELL’s overall goals and intentions for better building.

Many architects begin with sustainability and efficiency in mind and search for products that help them achieve that. “When possible, a natural, renewable material is where I start,” Martin confirms.

LP Building Solutions products can also support efficient building envelopes that can contribute to energy-efficient structures. In addition to sub-flooring and framing, LP® TechShield® Radiant Barrier is designed to help block radiant heat in the roof panel, improving a home’s energy efficiency, and LP SmartSide products offer a durable, sustainable siding option. LP WeatherLogic® Air & Water Barrier also boasts SFI® certification and helps safeguard the home from water intrusion and unwanted air leakage while allowing water vapor to escape. Builders can use LP products to allow for design flexibility and seamless integration into a building plan. Together, LP’s building solutions can contribute to structures that promote a sustainable future.

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